Orangutan undergoes a UK first surgery at Blackpool Zoo


For the first time in the United Kingdom a Bornean orangutan has undergone a double operation at Blackpool Zoo.

30 year old Vicky had to go under the knife to alleviate severe congestion which she suffered as a result of chronic sinusitis and air sacculitis.

A crack team of human and animal medical experts were assembled to conduct the procedure.

This included Consultant ENT surgeon, Jawed Tahrey from Nuttfield Health’s, The Grosvenor Hospital in Chester, was responsible for carrying out a functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Meanwhile a marsupialisation of the air sac was carried out by zoo vet Karen Archer and Andrew Moore of the Oakhill veterinary centre.


Anaesthetist, Dr Paul Jamieson and staff nurse, Virginia Kayembe of Nuttfield Health along with a number of other human and animal medical specialists along with Blackpool Zoo primate keepers rounded out the team.

Karen Archer said, “The teamwork between top human and animal medical specialists in this case was the key to its success.”

During the air sacculitis portion of the surgery herself and Andrew “drained Vicky’s air sac, which is used for vocalisation, and sutured it open to prevent any further build up and congestion.”

Andrew say’s that, “Air sacculitis is a common condition in orangutans and this type of surgery goes a long way to help alleviate symptoms and limits the risk of potentially life-threatening complications that may occur without such treatment.”

Mr Tahrey explained the functional endoscopic sinus procedure, “As an ear, nose and throat surgeon I have carried out this procedure many times, but it is very rare to get the opportunity to operate on an animal.”

“The aim of the operation was to restore drainage in the sinuses and increase ventilation of the nasal cavity and I am delighted with the results.”

“The anatomy of an orangutan and a human are similar but the orangutan doesn’t have frontal and ethmoid sinuses and their bones are much harder,” he added.

This marks the second surgery Vicky has undergone surgery for these illnesses. While the orangutans from Blackpool holidayed at Chester Zoo during construction of their £1 million home she had to have the same surgeries carried out but at different times.

Following the procedures Vicky was back with the group and enjoying her favourite treats such as yoghurt within 24 hours.

She was born at Blackpool on June 17th 1984 and has given birth to two little girls.

Photo Credit: Blackpool Zoo

By Cale Russell

TheAnimalFacts.com is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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