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Gorgeous The Gorilla: A Vision of Loveliness After Eye Surgery

July 24, 1990

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ To her handlers at Hogle Zoo, Gorgeous the gorilla is a sight for sore eyes.

Virtually blinded by cataracts, the 41-year-old lowland gorilla awoke from surgery Monday, grabbed a cup from her keeper, Bob Pratt, and gazed into his eyes. Onlookers went ape.

″It made me feel wonderful ... when she started to respond with eye focus. She looked directly at me,″ Pratt said.

One week ago, Gorgeous was feeling her way around her pen, struggling to find her food and water. Zoo officials feared she would hurt herself, perhaps mortally, in a fall.

That changed Monday when a University of Utah medical team directed by Dr. Alan S. Crandall restored the vision in Gorgeous’s left eye.

Crandall, a clinical ophthalmologist specializing in cataract surgery and glaucoma, removed a large, dense cataract that had almost completely clouded the gorilla’s eyesight and implanted a synthetic lens. The right eye could not be repaired due to an earlier fight.

When the anesthetic wore off after the 50-minute operation, Gorgeous’s initial reactions and revived fluidity of motion signaled immediately that she could see again.

No one was happier than Pratt, the zoo’s primate supervisor who turned almost misty-eyed when his charge wiped away a drop of water from her cup.

″That was a pretty emotional time for me,″ he acknowledged.

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