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Tiger, lacking options, faces blindness
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A South China tiger in a zoo in Xuchang, Henan Province is on the verge of losing her eye sight for lack of effective treatment, raising concern from zoo workers and local residents, Henan-based Dongfang Jinbao reported on Tuesday.

This photo, published on Tuesday, January 15, 2008, shows the cataract-afflicted tiger in a zoo in Xuchang city, in central Henan Province.

The tiger, an 18-year-old mother of four, was diagnosed with cataracts in 2005.

"Cataracts are a common affliction that hits many elderly people, and the tiger is 70 years old in tiger age," Jia Hongwei, a worker at the zoo said. "But cataracts rarely form in tigers."

Famous for her contributions to the city's tiger population, the tiger is familiar to many citizens.

Surgery is an effective way to cure "pearl eye," and there have been several successful cases in China, a concerned citizen surnamed Wang was quoted as saying.

However, there would be risks if the tiger accepted the surgery, Jia said.

"We are not sure if the old tiger can take the deep anesthesia in the first place," the zoo worker said.

Most of the artificial lenses on the market are designed for human use, and it is difficult to find bigger ones specially made for tigers.

Moreover, the whole operation would cost around 40,000 yuan (US$5,522), an amount beyond the zoo's budget capabilities, Jia said.

The zoo has publicized the tiger's condition and issued a call for help through the newspaper.

(CRI January 16, 2008)

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