Surgical Lip-to-Lid Transposition Correction and Husbandry Management for Severe Eyelid Coloboma in a Litter of Snow Leopards (Uncia uncia)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2017
Jen J. Kilburn1, DVM; Kay A. Backues1, DVM, DACZM; Jonathan Pucket2, DVM, DACVO
1Tulsa Zoo, Tulsa, OK, USA; 2Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists, Tulsa, OK, USA


Eyelid coloboma, or agenesis, is a congenital malformation where a section of the eyelid does not form appropriately during embryonic development. There have been multiple reports of eyelid colobomas in snow leopards (Uncia uncia) as well as in other feline species.1-5 Three snow leopard cubs were born to a multiparous dam in May 2016. By 5 days of age, all three cubs were diagnosed with varying degrees of severe eyelid coloboma. Daily separation from the dam, keeper socializations, and topical treatments were initiated on all three cubs at 9 days old and continued until the cubs were 5 mo old. Lip commissure to eyelid transposition surgical corrections were successfully performed on all three cubs at 3–4 mo of age.5 The procedure was performed on one cub at a time and the cub was maintained at the hospital for 10–20 days with daily supervised visits with its siblings. When unsupervised, an Elizabethan-collar was placed on the cub. All cubs were successfully reintroduced with the dam and siblings at the end of the hospitalization. The surgical procedures resulted in functioning eyelids in all three cubs. The consistent human interaction with the cubs before and during the postoperative period made the procedure and its intensive aftercare possible and was crucial to the successful outcome of the surgeries.

Literature Cited

1.  Barnett KC, Lewis JCM. Multiple ocular colobomas in the snow leopard (Uncia uncia). Vet Ophthalmol. 2002;5:197–199.

2.  Cutler TJ. Bilateral eyelid agenesis repair in a captive Texas cougar. Vet Ophthalmol. 2002;5:143–148.

3.  Gripenberg U, Blomqvist L, Pamilo P, Soderlund V, Tarkkanen A, Wahlberg C, Varvio-Aho SL, Virtaranta-Knowles K. Multiple ocular coloboma (MOC) in snow leopards (Panthera uncia). Hereditas. 1985;103:221–229.

4.  Lengger J, Meissel H, Blomqvist L, Nell B. Surgical approach to partial eyelid agenesis in snow leopards (Uncia uncia). Proc Am Assoc Zoo Vet; 2016. p. 216.

5.  Whittaker CG, Wilkie DA, Simpson DJ, Deykin A, Smith JS, Robinson CL. Lip commissure to eyelid transposition for repair of feline eyelid agenesis. Vet Ophthalmol. 2010;13:173–178.


Speaker Information
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Jen J. Kilburn, DVM
Tulsa Zoo
Tulsa, OK, USA

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