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A team of vets and doctors from around the world have performed pioneering surgery on a 29-year-old orangutan at Chester Zoo.

The 7st 10lbs (49kg) ape called Vicky successfully underwent a two-hour sinus operation - the first time the procedure has been carried out in the UK.

Zookeepers collaborated with a team from Blackpool Zoo, along with Nuffield Health experts and an orangutan specialist from Switzerland.

Jawed Tahery, the consultant from Nuffield Health s The Grosvenor Hospital in Chester who led the operation, said: I carry out sinus procedures on humans on a weekly basis.

But this is the first time I ve ever performed one on an orangutan.

However, the principles are actually exactly the same as, anatomically speaking. Humans and orangutans are no different when it comes to the make-up of the skull.

Chester Zoo vet Steve Unwin said: It s fantastic for Vicky as her chronic sinusitis made her feel thick-headed and susceptible to infections.

Vicky has a key role in the European Bornean orangutan breeding programme, a project to boost numbers of the endangered species.

She has already made a contribution to the UK s zoo population after giving birth to two girls - Summer and Cherie - at Blackpool Zoo.

Orangutans - or old man of the forest as they are also known - are one of human s closest relatives.

But the demand for timber, palm oil, roads and mining means huge areas of forest have now been lost, taking with it the homes of both Bornean and Sumatran orangutans and pushing them perilously close to extinction.

 


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