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Minnesota Zoo leopard recovering after surgery

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Okha (pronounced “oxa”), an Amur leopard from the Minnesota Zoo, is recovering well and appears in good spirits after a recent surgery at  BluePearl Veterinary Partners.

An Amur leopard

Okha is an Amur leopard from the Minnesota Zoo who had surgery at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Eden Prairie, Minn. Image courtesy of the Minnesota Zoo.

“We’re glad that Okha came through surgery so well. She has regained her healthy appetite and is getting around nicely,” said Dr. Jim Rasmussen, Minnesota Zoo veterinarian.

“It is an absolute honor to be able to help one of the most critically endangered of the wild cats,” said Dr. Judith Feldsien of BluePearl, who is a board-certified veterinary surgeon. “Going in to the procedure we were unsure what we exactly were going to find. We were all very relieved to find such a treatable condition. The staff at the zoo did an amazing job discovering there was a problem before she was more critically ill.”

Okha, 10, has been at the Minnesota Zoo since 2008. She had recently been noted having difficulty urinating and defecating. Zoo veterinarians determined she likely had a mass in her pelvic region which resulted in the problems, but the mass was not obvious on X-rays or ultrasound.  The leopard was then taken to Blue Pearl’s veterinary hospital in Eden Prairie for a CT scan and consultation with specialists. Dr. Jenifer Myers, one of BluePearl’s referral veterinarians in internal medicine, conducted an evaluation.

The CT scan revealed what looked like a focal fluid filled structure associated with the uterus that was thought to be an abscess.  This was causing obstruction of both the colon and the urethra, interfering with her ability to comfortably urinate and defecate.  The leopard was spayed to remove the diseased uterine tissue.

Veterinarians from the Minnesota Zoo and BluePearl say this procedure, performed June 14,  was a great example of collaboration between the two organizations for the benefit of a very special patient. And it’s an example of the approach regularly taken to provide the best possible medical care of zoo animals.

Okha, a leopard from the Minnesota Zoo, had surgery at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Okha, a leopard from the Minnesota Zoo, had surgery at the BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Amur leopards once thrived in northern China and Russia’s Far East, but are now threatened with possible extinction. Only about 50 leopards remain in the wild.