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Philadelphia Zoo Snow Leopard Cubs to Undergo Surgery

Philadelphia Zoo and Penn Vet collaborate on minor eye surgery 

Philadelphia, PA—August 14, 2013—The Philadelphia Zoo’s two snow leopard cubs, a male and a female born on May 26, 2013, underwent  minor surgery to correct eyelid abnormalities. In an ongoing collaboration, the Philadelphia Zoo worked with specialists from Penn Vet on the surgery. The cubs are otherwise developing well, weigh about 10-11 pounds each, and are playing, eating, running and jumping normally. This is the second litter for Maya and Amga, after a set of twins born in June 2011. Those cubs were the first snow leopards ever born at the Philadelphia Zoo. Both cubs from the first litter have since moved to other zoos to continue the successful breeding of these cats.
During routine physical examinations the Zoo’s veterinary staff discovered the eyelid abnormalities. In this condition, called an upper eyelid coloboma, a portion of the upper eyelid fails to develop properly, leaving a gap at the edge of the eyelid which can lead to eye irritation. The cause of this condition is not well understood, but it occurs in a variety of animals and in humans, and appears to be more common in captive snow leopards than in other species.
“We are working with veterinary specialists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, who have offered their expertise in assisting the Zoo’s veterinary team to provide the best care for the cats,” says Dr. Keith Hinshaw, the Zoo’s senior veterinarian and Director of Animal Health. “Board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists from Penn Vet will perform any necessary corrective surgery on the cubs’ eyelids, as well as make recommendations on post-surgical care to prevent future eye irritation,” says Hinshaw.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to continue working with the wonderful team at the Philadelphia Zoo,” said Dr. William Crumley, staff ophthalmologist at Penn Vet. “We look forward to correcting the snow cubs’ eyelid colobomas and watching them grow to be healthy.”
After surgery the cubs will remain indoors for a few weeks until healing is complete. The Zoo looks forward to their public debut soon after.
Snow leopards, native to the high mountains of Central Asia, are endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, conflict with humans, and poaching. 

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