In a world first, surgeons at Wellington Zoo have cured an infection that spread through a chimp's inner ear and part of her skull, and would have eventually killed her.
Cara, a 28-year-old chimpanzee, has suffered from a bacterial ear infection for five or six years.
Zoo staff tried to treat it with antibiotics but it became so resistant that the medication had no effect.
The infection inflamed her ear from the outside into the middle ear, and was beginning to eat at part of her skull. If left untreated, it would eventually have spread to her brain and killed her.
Wellington ear, nose and throat surgeon Rebecca Garland, who works for Capital and Coast District Health Board, specialises in ear surgery - but most of her patients are human.
She donated her time and equipment, as did vet staff, to help with Cara's surgery. The health board also provided the use of expensive equipment, including a microscope used in the operation.
The most expensive part of the operation was a 3D model of Cara's skull used to prepare for the real surgery, which cost about $900.
Dr Garland said that, as far as research showed, the surgery had never before been performed on a chimpanzee.
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