Doctors perform ear surgery on zoo chimpanzee

Monday, June 14, 2010 - 12:27pm

New Zealand surgeons have performed what is thought to be the first ear surgery ever done on a chimpanzee.

The Wellington Zoo chimpanzee, named Cara, had a habit of putting sticks in her ear. It's not certain if her doing so caused her bacterial ear infection, or if perhaps the infection was already there, and the resulting discomfort caused the behavior, according to the Dominion Post.

In any case, the doctors apparently found a lot of infected tissue, which was a danger because it was close to the brain, and removed Cara's ear canal. They sewed it up so she can't fuss with it any more, and now her ear looks like a belly button, according to doctors quoted in the Dominion Post. "[T]he wound was closed with stitches sewn under the skin, so that Cara and the other chimps would not be able to remove them with excessive grooming," the Post reported.

Cara was not hearing out of that ear prior to the surgery, the doctors said.

The surgery was done by an ear-nose-throat doctor who usually works on members of the human species.

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