Following the surgery to remove the cataract from Max’s left blind eye, which was undertaken by one of Kenya’s top eye Specialists, Dr. Schwendermann on the 21st March, sadly the cornea clouded over again, so Max remains blind. Apparently the pigment in animal eyes often reacts in this way, being a lot denser than that of a human. However, unless one knew it, one would not at first notice that Max was blind in both eyes, for he romps around his Stockade, never colliding with the walls, avoiding his green browse stacked in one corner, and his water tub in another. He sleeps on a soft bed of straw at the far end, and in the middle of his Stockade, he has a little mudbath, which he thoroughly enjoys, and after which he gets particularly playful, when his Keeper has to take evasive action by climbing the platform for fear of being “downed”. He enjoys his food, responds to his name, to come to the door of his Stockade for a little loving and to take his milk and porridge, and he also enjoys his range cubes and additional supplementary feed which contains, in addition, to extra vitamins and minerals, Coconut, Avocado and Macadamia pith, the oil having been extracted for human consumption. So, apart from loss of vision, Max wants for nothing and is a very happy and contented little rhino, enjoying a good life, though denied the freedom that vision would allow him.
The highlight of each day is when Shida approaches, something he does more often now, since he is very interested in Maxwell. Somehow, Max can sense that Shida is on his way long before he actually arrives, and positions himself at the Stockade door to enjoy a gentle tussle through the bars. Shida’s dung has been placed in Max’s Stockade for many weeks now, so they know one another well. In fact, since Shida has never displayed any signs of the usual rhino aggression on encountering a male outsider, we suspect that he and Max knew one another from the wild situation before Max became an orphan, since he was retrieved from Shida’s territory in the Park forest behind the Trust Headquarters. Shida is now completely independent of his Keepers – virtually just another “wild” rhino inhabitant of Nairobi National Park, who comes and goes as he pleases, but spends more time than before at home now, Max being the draw.
Since Max’s cataract operation on the left eye, we have heard that a baby rhino in Hamburg Zoo, also blind in both eyes, has likewise undergone surgery to remove his cataracts, and so far, that intervention looks like being a success. Daphne has been in touch with the Professor in charge, who has suggested that we wait a month so that they can be absolutely certain that the Hamburg baby’s cornea does not cloud over, as did that of Max, so we will be in touch again later in June, to get an update. Hopefully, it will be good news, and the Professor has assured Daphne that the surgeon in Hamburg, who has operated on many domestic animal eyes successfully, would be willing to fly to Kenya at our expense to try and restore the vision of Max’s right eye, the left one now being beyond help. Although it is not possible to replace an eye lens in a rhino’s eye, as long as the cornea remains clear, the animal will have blurred vision, which, after all, is better than none at all, and for a rhino, which only uses its eyes in close combat, perfectly adequate for a normal wild life!