Aussie Ark Perform Word First Surgery on Tasmanian Devil

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: February 24, 2022 4:01 pm

Aussie Ark Tasmanian Devil

Derrick an 11 month old Tasmanian Devil has undergone a world first surgery to repair cataracts in his eyes

Photo Credit: Aussie Ark

A Tasmanian Devil from Aussie Ark in Australia has undergone a world first surgery to restore his lost sight. Derrick was born at Aussie Ark but is currently being hand-raised by Australian Reptile Park, Head of Mammals Hewin Hochkins.

It became evident that Derrick was losing his sight when small, milky white dots began to appear on his eyes. These began to grow quickly after the appeared.

At Somersby Animal Hospital Vet, Dr Robin Crisman was able to identify that the cloudy pupils were the result of cataracts. This condition has not been identified in a Tasmanian Devil previously.

A cataract is an opacity which forms on the lens of the eye. The lens is used to focus an image on the back of the eye. In humans they are a common cause of blindness.

Following their discovery the team contacted Eye Clinic for Animals in Sydney to see if surgery could assist Derrick.

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“In 10 years of operation, or my decades in the industry, I have never seen a Tasmanian devil undergo cataract surgery,” says Hayley Shute, Manager of Conservation at Aussie Ark. 

She continued “It was quite startling, and of course, our only thought is of Derrrick the devil and how we can ensure his health and future. Thankfully, Dr Robin Crisman from Somersby Animal Hospital, was able to get us in contact with the Ophthalmologist team at Eye Clinic for Animals – who jumped to action and were confident they could restore his vision.” 

Following a meeting with Dr Kelly Caruso, surgeon at Eye Clinic for Animals and some preliminary testing it was determined that Derrick would require surgery to ever see again. Lasting 4 hours it involved removing the original lens and inserting an artificial one.

With the surgery deemed critical it was performed on the day. While cataract surgery has a 90% success rate in most pets the outcome in a Tasmanian Devil is unknown. This will lead to a nerve wracking wait for Aussie Ark staff.

Following the surgery Derrick received lots of TLC from his care team. He has made incredible surgery and will soon return to Aussie Ark to join their highly successful breeding program.

Learn more about Tasmanian Devils here - Tasmanian Devil Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Aussie Ark on their website – Aussie Ark

Aussie Ark Tasmanian Devil

A Tasmanian Devil from Aussie Ark undergoes cataract surgery in a world first

Photo Credit: Aussie Ark

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