A chimpanzee with a potentially life-threatening ear infection
has made medical history at Wellington Zoo.
Cara the chimp had to go under the knife because of an unhealthy fascination with sticks.
Cara suffered from the infection for about six years and vets say the world-first operation was the only way to fix it.
She was taken from her enclosure early this morning and brought to Wellington Zoo's state of the art operating theatre for the surgery.
"She was always putting sticks in her ear and it got to the point where the vets and the keepers at the time decided we should check that out," says Cara's keeper Vimal Patel.
Due to the ear infection, the surgeons had to take out her whole inner ear.
"If we don't remove the ear, then there's a risk of a brain abscess forming and her life being terminated that way," says Zoo vet Francois Lampen.
Many pieces of the sticks Cara put into her ear were also pulled out by the surgeons.
The team of doctors during the surgery included a human ear nose and throat surgeon.
That is because while the surgery is performed often on humans, it's believed to be the first time the surgery was done on a chimpanzee.
The ear nose and throat surgeon Rebecca Garland said after the four-hour surgery that they found "a lot of inflamed, really angry tissue, but no other nasty disease."
The ear is now closed up, so there is no room for any more sticks but staff will be keeping an extra close eye on Cara over the next few days just to make sure.