Surgery on blind orangutan allows her to see her baby twins for the first time (along with their father)
A formerly blind Sumatran orangutan has been given a remarkable gift of being able to see her baby twins for the very first time after undergoing cataract surgery in the first such operation in Indonesia.
Prior to her surgery on Monday afternoon, Gober, a 40-year-old orangutan, had spent at least the last four years blind due to cataracts leading to her capture in North Sumatra province in late 2008 by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP).
‘If we hadn”t brought her here she would have been killed by local farmers, as she was raiding their crops to survive,” SOCP veterinarian drh Yenny Sarasqati said in a press release.
Surgery: Gober, a 40-year-old Sumatran orangutan is seen during cataract surgery on Monday in the provincial capital of Medan
Monumental: The surgery, conducted by a human eye specialist, was Indonesia”s first on an orangutan though the first ever was in Malaysia in 2007
Unconditional love: Gober is seen after the birth of her twins, a boy and a girl pictured with her in 2011 though then without the ability to see them
Performed in the provincial capital of Medan, the 90-minute cataract surgery conducted by a human eye specialist from Samarinda was Indonesia’s first on an orangutan. The surgery comes just several years after the very first one was performed on an orangutan in Malasyia in 2007.
While Gober’s first moments with her awaiting babies has yet to be reported by the SOCP, it is at least somewhat known what’s awaiting her.
While in captivity, to help ease her life in darkness, the conservation program allowed her to breed with another orangutan named Leuser, who as it happened, is also blind.
“[We] felt that being blind, it would dramatically improve her quality of life,” said Sarasqati of their decision which she admitted was rare being that there are already many orangutans in captivity in Indonesia.
Family: Gober”s two babies Ginting and Ganteng are pictured with her at the quarantine center run by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programm prior to her surgery on Monday
Hope: Veterinarians allowed Gober to mate hoping to increase her quality of life after, until this week, spending her last four years in darkness
Coming out of surgery this week Gober returned to the responsibilities of mom to the now 18-month-old twins named Ganteng – a boy whose name means handsome in Indonesian – and Ginting – a little girl.
“…now that we have done it, all being well it will change each of their lives”
– SOCP veterinarian drh Yenny Sarasqat
The program said that twin births by orangutans are not unheard of, though coming from two blind parents – in the words of Dr Ian Singleton, head of SOCP – it was “totally unique.”
“It”s absolutely fantastic that we were finally able to do this for Gober. We had to wait until the twins were big enough to be separated briefly from their mum but now that we have done it, all being well it will change each of their lives,” said Sarasqati.
Remarkably what else awaited Gober’s eyes for the first time, was the twins’ father.
Leuser, who became a father to the twins in January of 2011 as part of a breeding program, is tragically also blind, having been the victim of an air rifle attack several years ago after a failed attempt at being reintroduced into the wild, the SOCP reports.
Father: The father of Gober”s children, Leuser, who”s pictured, is also blind after suffering an air rifle attack that lodged 62 pellets into him, making him a permanent resident at the program
Tragic end: An x-ray shows the pellets lodged into just Leuser”s head alone after a group of villagers attacked him following his second attempt by the program to release him into the wild
Leuser was shot 62 times by villagers before he was found by the program’s veterinarians with two pellets lodged into one of his eyes and one in another.
A shocking x-ray of Leuser’s injuries released by the program show the trauma his body took.
After twice released from captivity prior to the air rifle attack – in hopes of his successful adaption into the wild – Leuser will be a permanent resident with the SOCP, along with Gober. Their babies, once fully grown, however, will be released into the wild the program reports.
Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered, with only about 6,600 left in the wild.
The program reports Germany”s Orang-Utans in Not (Orangutans in Peril) foundation as having covered the logistical costs for Gober’s surgery.