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The BBC's Graham Satchell
To compensate, Beanie has developed his other senses
 real 56k

Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
White wallaby's woe
Wallaby BBC
Beanie bumps into things
A nine-month-old albino wallaby from a UK theme park has undergone cataract surgery to restore his sight.

The young animal, which is a star attraction at Flamingo Land Zoo, near Malton, North Yorkshire, is virtually blind and continually bumps into things.

Andrew Melton BBC
Andrew Melton: Beanie gets confused
"Unfortunately for Beanie, he keeps hitting fences, running into other wallabies and can sometimes get into a bit of a muddle because he doesn't know where he is," Andrew Melton, the zoo's manager, told the BBC.

Cataract surgery was done on one of the Wallaby's eyes by vets at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Hopefully, when stitches and an eye covering have been removed, Beanie's eyesight will be greatly improved.

Although such surgery has been performed before on other animals - the AHT has done it on dogs, a swan and even a lizard - Beanie was the first wallaby in the UK to have the operation.

Wallaby BBC
Vets assessed the animal before surgery
The procedure was carried out by Ms Jane Sansom. A spokesperson for the health trust, a specialist referral centre for sick animals, said: "We have some of the best ophthalmologists in the country, if not Europe - certainly as far as animals are concerned."

She said that Beanie was in theatre for about an hour and a half. The operation is understood to have gone well - although a decision was taken not to correct the second eye for fear that a prolonged period under the anaesthetic might be dangerous for the wallaby.

The marsupial will be returned to Yorkshire where he will be closely monitored at the zoo's own hospital for the next six weeks.

Cataracts are a common problem for humans and animals. They are the result of protein build-up in the eyes' lenses, leading to a cloudiness that obstructs vision.

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