Sarus crane at Zoo Miami undergoes surgery to remove cataracts in both eyes

Crane has since been reunited with mate

(Zoo Miami)

MIAMI – A Sarus crane at Zoo Miami underwent surgery Wednesday to have cataracts removed in both eyes, Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill said Thursday in a news release. 

Magill said the crane is 47 years old and is one of the oldest Sarus cranes under human care.  

"She and her mate are the largest residents that roam freely within Zoo Miami's 'Wings of Asia' free flight aviary," Magill said.

The surgery was performed by Zoo Miami Animal Health's veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Lorraine Karpinski.  

Magill said Karpinski has donated her services to the zoo for several decades and has performed similar surgeries successfully on several other zoo animals. 

"Similar to human beings, animals that reach an advance age can develop cataracts which can severely reduce visual capabilities and be very detrimental to the animal's quality of life," Magill said. "This particular crane was demonstrating difficulty in navigating her way through her habitat and was becoming more reclusive due to her inability to see well."

Magill said the surgery took about one hour for both eyes and was successful.

The crane has since been reunited with her mate. 

Sarus cranes, which are monogamous and mate for life, grow up to nearly 6 feet tall and are the tallest flying birds in the world. They are found in open areas, wetlands and the shores of lakes and ponds in northern India, Malaysia and northern Australia, Magill said. 

They feed on aquatic plants, grains, insects and small vertebrates, and are considered threatened or endangered over most of their habitat.

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