Penguin Gets New Outlook on Life

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DAVIS --

The room is prepped. The doctors are ready.

It's not often they are called upon to perform cataract surgery on a 1 and a half year old.

"We don't know exactly how much she can see," said Billy Hughes, who has cared for the patient from the very beginning.

Now it's time to bring her in. She's a little girl named Rey. Named for the place she was born, or rather, hatched -- into the penguin exhibit at The Monterey Bay aquarium.

"She's very charismatic. She was hand raised," said Hughes.

And almost from the very beginning, from three-months-old, Rey started developing cataracts. So she's been brought to the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital for surgery. She's been brought here for the sake of her sight, and a lot more.

"She doesn't interact with the other birds," Hughes explains. "She's isolated."

Doctors will have to sedate Rey, which takes some special skill when you're dealing with a beak.

She'll be on the operating table for 3 to 4 hours.

Rey has a long life ahead of her -- 20 to 30 years at the aquarium. Her team of doctors at UC Davis, and her team of caregivers at the Aquarium, all want those years to be full of fish and friendship, in a bird-like way.

They say the surgery is well worth it, to give the little lady that so many people come to see, a little sight of her own.