Chester Zoo's Vicky helped to breathe easily again

Published date: 23 May 2014 |
Published by: Steve Creswell
Read more articles by Steve Creswell


AN ORANGUTAN at Chester Zoo is king – or rather queen – of the swingers again following a successful sinus operation.

Vicky, 29, was suffering with a “thick head” and infections before vets carried out pioneering surgery on April 17 to help her breathe normally again.

This week they confirmed the procedure was a huge success, and the 49kg ape had a spring in her step as she was reunited with chums.

A zoo spokesman said: “The vets were really pleased with how the operation went and Vicky was up and about climbing very soon after. It was great to see.”

Vicky, a Bornean orangutan, usually lives at Blackpool Zoo but is staying in Chester with three others until her new exhibit in Blackpool is completed.

She has already made a significant contribution to the zoo population of her species, having produced two girls – Summer and Cherie – at Blackpool Zoo.

They too are staying in Chester before they move back to their new exhibit ahead of its opening this summer.

Vicky’s operation took place over two hours at Chester Zoo’s on-site Animal Health Centre, conducted by the zoo’s vets, colleagues from Blackpool Zoo and a human sinus expert from Nuffield Heath The Grosvenor Hospital in Chester. It was the first time the procedure was carried out in the UK.

Chester Zoo vet Steve Unwin said: “It’s fantastic we’ve been able to do this for Vicky.

Her chronic sinusitis may have made her feel ‘thick headed’ and made her more susceptible to picking up infections. This operation will dramatically improve things for her, make her much more comfortable.”

Jawed Tahery, consultant from Nuffield Heath The Grosvenor Hospital in Chester, added: “I carry out sinus procedures on humans on a weekly basis but this is the first time I’ve ever performed one on an orangutan.

“However, the principles are actually exactly the same as, anatomically speaking, humans and orangutans are no different when it comes to the make-up of the skull.”

Orangutans are one of man’s closest relatives and have an arm span of up to two metres. Chester Zoo currently has 10 Sumatran and 10 Bornean orangutans, including the four visiting from Blackpool Zoo.

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