A visionary vet has given an elephant at Amsterdam's Artis Zoo the ability to see again, thanks to an ingenious "eye"-dea: contact lenses.
Dr. Anne-Marie Verbruggen was brought in to aid Win Thida, a 45-year old Asian elephant that had been hit in the eye during an altercation with another elephant. The incident caused damage to the cornea of one eye, causing the elephant some discomfort. The eye did not appear to be healing properly, so Dr. Verbruggen (who has experience inserting similar contacts into the eyes of horses) was brought in.
But getting the contact lens in place proved somewhat tricky. "The main difficulty was her height," Verbruggen told reporters. "Elephants can't lie down for long before their immense weight impairs their breathing, so I used a ladder to get close enough. It wasn't ideal, but it worked."
The process took about an hour, and after the elephant's anesthesia wore off, Dr. Verbruggen said that Win Thida was already acting happier. Now that the lens is in place, the elephant will be able to see better, and the lens will also allow the eye to heal more quickly.