Wild snow leopard’s vision restored after world-first cataract surgery


Linghan the snow leopard was anesthetized during the three-hour operation.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(CNN) — A wild snow leopard found injured and unable to see has had its vision restored after Chinese veterinarians removed a cataract in what they say is a world-first surgical procedure.

Linghan, a snow leopard believed to be over 11 years old, went under the knife on November 26 in the city of Xining, in the northwestern province of Qinghai. It is the first time a snow leopard has had the procedure, according to Zhang Qi Xin, assistant director of Xining Zoo.

Cataracts cause the lens of the eye to becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.

During the procedure, which lasted for about three hours, an intraocular lens was implanted in Linghan’s right eye after the cataract was removed.

Linghan’s sight is expected to be restored in about a month.

“The experience we’ve earned from this surgery brings great benefits to our future wild animal rescue missions,” Zhang said.

“This is a very important surgery for the leopard,” Zhang said. “Even without eyesight, it can still survive in the zoo. However, to the leopard itself, recovering its vision is extremely important for its physical state.”

Linghan was “thin, in bad condition and had lost sight in both eyes” when it was found in the wild in the Yushu Tibetan autonomous region of Qinghai.

Snow leopards, which have evolved to live in harsh mountainous terrain, are a vulnerable species, with only up to 6,500 remaining in the wild, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

Xining Zoo is home to 12 of the big cats. According to a statement by the Xining Zoo, posted on the WeChat social media platform, snow leopards are a Class A protected species in China, with about 2,500 left in the country.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Latest News

More News

National News

More U.S. & World

Washington D.C.

More Washington

Your Local Election HQ

More Your Local Election HQ

Daily Oklahoma Coronavirus Data


Contact In Your Corner Team

Latest News

More News

KFOR Digital Originals

More Digital Original

Follow @KFOR on Twitter