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Friday, November 25, 2011

Saving the eye of the tiger: Battle to prevent rare white big cat from going blind

By Richard Hartley-parkinson

Vet Rob Lowe led a team of vets in trying to restore Zena's sight after she developed a cataract

This vet is well used to restoring the sight of dogs and horses, but never has he worked on a tiger before.

Roger Lowe was enlisted by the Isle of Wight Zoo, in Sandown, to remove a cataract from the one remaining eye of Zena, a rare white tiger.

The 15-year-old big cat with 'tomboyish tendencies', who is a star attraction at the zoo, lost her right eye to glaucoma six years ago. She faced total blindness and a life of finding her way round scent and sound.

Charlotte Corney, who hand-raised Zena, said she is glad to see the recovery the rare tiger is making

On Monday, however, she went under the surgeon's knife and is already back to her usual bouncy self.

People visiting the zoo will be able to see her splashing around in puddles or showing off for her fans.

Zoo owner Charlotte Corney said: 'I'm over the moon, couldn't be happier.'

Zena's profile on the Isle of Wight zoo website says she lives with her sister, Zia, who has a totally different character.

It says: 'Unlike her older sister Zia, Zena doesn't seem to understand the meaning of vanity. Zena has a real zest for life, which is evident from watching her humorous antics.

'Among other things, she has perfected the art of bouncing along on her hind legs while trying to bite the jet of water from a hosepipe.'

Back with her sister, Zia (right), the tiger is one of the star attractions at the Isle of Wight zoo



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