Making Surgical History

Daktari Sue and her husband made wild animal surgical history by performing a pioneering operation on Ugas of "Born Free" fame. Sue wrote "Neither Toni nor I had ever removed a lion's eye before, but we supposed that the method would be no different from that practised on a cat or a dog. The deep anaesthetic and moment-by-moment observation would be the most difficult part of the operation. Here in the bush there would be no extra hands, no nurses, no control of wound sterility when the wind raised the dust."

George Adamson assisted throughout the operation that took two hours and helped Daktari Sue remove the stitches: 14 in total. Four months later George sent a final case report. Was it possible that Ugas' one-eyed appearance had made him even more attractive to females? "The loss of the eye does not appear to inhibit Ugas' activities in the very least. Frequently he goes off for 3 or 4 nights at a time. At least twice, if not 3 times, he has mated with wild lionesses. He seems just as alert as ever. Only difference being that he is constantly turning his head to the right to enable his left eye to take in the lost view on the right side. His judgement does not appear to be impaired."

Ugas, the one-eyed lion, thrived for many years in the wilderness, even after George had left Meru Park and moved further north-east. It was easy to spot him among his pride, and you can guess why. Although his empty eye socket was covered with hair, he was quite unmistakable, for he had the darkest mane, the most curious face, and the most ENORMOUS feet!

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