Chinese veterinarians successfully completed the world’s first cataract surgery on a snow leopard on Tuesday in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

Linghan, an older snow leopard, was recovering from the cataract surgery on his right eye at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Wildlife Zoo (Xining Zoo) on Tuesday morning, according to the statement from zoo officials sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Linghan was anesthetized on Tuesday morning and went into surgery at 11:45 am.

Veterinarians finished the procedure in roughly three hours and Linghan woke up 20 minutes later.

An intraocular lens was implanted in his right eye after the cataract was removed.

Jin Yipeng, vice president at the College of Veterinary Medicine, China Agricultural University, and his team performed the surgery.

Jin said the procedure went smoothly and explained that Linghan’s recovery will depend on the animal’s condition but was “cautiously optimistic.”

The procedure marked the first cataract surgery performed on a snow leopard not only in China, but worldwide, according to the official zoo statement.

“The surgery will not only improve Linghan’s living quality, but also provide experience in rescuing other wild animals,” the statement said.

Linghan was injured when first rescued from the wild in Qinghai’s Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in January and was sent to the Xining Zoo.

After the snow leopard was examined, experts learned that Linghan was 11 years old, roughly the maximum age for the species.

Since February, Linghan has undergone multiple treatments.

In China, the snow leopard is a Class A protected animal. Field studies have found there are 4,000 to 7,500 in existence worldwide, with China home to roughly 2,000 to 2,500.

The Xining Zoo has 12 snow leopards, including Aoxue, China’s first and only surviving, artificially bred snow leopard.

The procedure marked the first cataract surgery performed on a snow leopard not only in China, but worldwide. Credit: Xining Zoo.