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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Pioneering eye op for monkey
April the Spider monkey
April was the first blind monkey to be born at the zoo
A revolutionary eye operation has been carried out on a Colombian Spider Monkey who was born at a Staffordshire zoo.

April, who is 14 months old, was the first monkey to be born blind at Drayton Manor Zoo near Tamworth.

The problem was picked up two weeks after she was born when keepers noticed she was not making eye contact.

Since then, she has been cared for at zoo manager Joyce Roberts' house.

But last week, April became one of the first monkeys in the country to undergo a pioneering operation, normally performed on babies, to replace her two lenses.

'Small primate'

The operation was carried out by specialists at The Willows Veterinary Clinic in Birmingham.

Ms Roberts said: "They would carry out this operation on a human baby when they're just a few days old.

"But with a primate, because she's so small, we've had to wait until she was big enough to do it."

Since the operation, the zoo says there are signs that April's sight has been restored but it could take months for her to fully recover.

The BBC's Andrew Dawkins
"Only a fortnight after she was born, keepers noticed she wasn't making eye contact"

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