A Malaysian orangutan is expected to regain vision after successfully undergoing cataract surgery Wednesday, the first time the operation has been performed on one of the reddish-brown great apes, a wildlife official said.
The 19-year-old orangutan named Aman is recovering after the 2 1/2 hour surgery on both his eyes at the Matang Wildlife Center in Sarawak state on Borneo island, said Sarawak Forestry spokesman Zulkifli Baba Noor.
The operation was performed by animal ophthalmologist Izak Venter and anesthetist Frik Stegman, both from South Africa, and assisted by local veterinarian S. Amilan, he told The Associated Press.
Aman has been suffering from decreasing vision due to severe cataracts since 2000, he said.
He is expected to be able to see again, although he may not completely regain his vision, Zulkifli said.
Cataract surgery has been performed on other animals such as dogs but never on an orangutan before, he said.
The veterinarians are not charging for the operation, but other costs including their airfare, equipment and medicine totaling 31,000 ringgit (US$108,500; euro79,200) were funded by public donations, he said.
Aman, who weighs around 150 kilograms (330 pounds), has fathered two offspring and could live 45 years, the typical lifespan of an orangutan, he added.
Aman was rescued from a market in Sarawak in 1989 and taken to an animal sanctuary before being transferred to the Matang center in 2000.
Orangutans are a highly intelligent species of great apes with long arms and reddish-brown hair, and are native to Malaysia and Indonesia.