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Orangutan breathes easy after op

A bunged-up female orangutan can breathe easy after undergoing a UK-first sinus operation.

Vicky had the surgery this morning and was swiftly taken back to her enclosure where she will remain alone. It is the first time the procedure has been done in the UK, according to Chester Zoo.

The 29-year-old Bornean orangutan lives at the zoo with three others, including her two girls, Summer and Cherie. She will re-join the group tomorrow morning.

The mammals will return to Blackpool Zoo this summer, where Vicky usually resides, once the new exhibit in Blackpool, Lancashire, is completed.

Chester Zoo's vets performed the two-hour surgery at their on-site animal health centre, with the support of staff from Blackpool Zoo and a human sinus expert from Nuffield Health The Grosvenor hospital in Chester.

It was the first time Jawed Tahery, a consultant from Nuffield Health, performed a sinus procedure on an orangutan.

Chester Zoo vet Steve Unwin said it was fantastic the surgery could be performed and that it went as smoothly as they hoped.

He added: "Her chronic sinusitis would have often made her feel 'thick headed' and made her more susceptible to picking up infections. This operation will dramatically improve things for her, make her much more comfortable.

"As with humans, it is important to minimise the length of time a patient is anaesthetised so there were quite a few people involved to perform the various tasks as swiftly as possible. That's why we collaborated with the team from Blackpool Zoo, Nuffield Health and an orangutan specialist from Switzerland."

This October, the zoo will launch a campaign, Go Orange for Orangutans, to help protect the mammals in the wild by calling on schools, families, businesses and individuals to do their bit to save the critically endangered animals.

Money raised from the campaign will go towards assisting conservationists' work to protect orangutans in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra.

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