By Dan Howlett @DanHowlett85

A TEAM of surgeons successfully removed the lens from a 330-pound male lion’s eye

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Videographer / Director: Big Cat Rescue
Producer: Dan Howlett, Chloe Browne
Editor: Sonia Estal

Open wide: Joseph's huge tongue makes an appearance during surgery

Joseph, a 17-year-old big cat, began squinting in May of this year and staff at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida knew they had to act fast.

The big cat laid-out on the operating table

After he was sedated with a dart gun the team worked to get the huge beast onto the operating table and begin the process of removing his lens.

It had become luxated, or detached, which can be a regular problem for lions that are reaching their senior years.

A close-up of part of the intricate procedure

After being loaded into a crate and reaching the operating table a team of four vets got to work on the sedated animal.

Carole Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, said: “I think this may be the first time that we’ve ever seen a Lion’s lens being removed on camera – particularly so clearly.

Staff gather around Joseph after he has been sedated

“It took a lot of hard work to try and determine the cause of Joseph’s problem and how to treat it.

“Along with the regular problems of sedating and operating on such a huge animal we also had to deal with the fact that Joseph was incredibly angry and was refusing to eat or drink.

Joseph was sedated with a dart gun

“Operating on a big cat is always extremely risky but the fact that Joseph was agitated because of his condition made this even more dangerous.

“He gave an incredible roar when we approached and sedated him which is terrifying even when he is in a cage.

A playful Joseph covers his eyes

“After the operation – which was a complete success - Joseph was given fluids, long lasting antibiotic shots and steroids.

“But we still had the problem that he had not eaten for eight days – it was only through the perseverance of our staff that we got him to eat some meat from a stick - he is really picky.

The relaxed lion appears be having a very pleasant daydream

“He will likely lose some clarity of vision in the eye but thankfully he is no longer in discomfort.”

Joseph was rescued from a backyard zoo in Ohio in October 2007 - along with another lion and four tigers.

The big cat breaks into a yawn
Joseph among the daisies

He had been used as a tourist attraction for people who wanted to pet and have their photo taken with him.

The charismatic lion has an intense gaze

Because of this he had most of teeth removed by the owner who eventually had her establishment closed down.

Joseph now lives in a half-acre enclosure with three other big cats and is recuperating from his operation by eating his favourite treat – ice cream.