Robert Gwin has performed surgery on lots of animals in his 31 years as an ophthalmologist, from bears and hippopotami to cheetahs and alligators, not to mention the dogs and cats he treats every week at his Oklahoma City veterinary practice.
But he had never operated on a deer until Monday, when a 2-month-old, white-tailed fawn with cloudy eyes was brought in from Noble. Thanks in large part to Gwin, the fawn called 10-4 might turn out OK. "This is her shot,” he said after completing the cataract surgery. "She’s going to have to regain her vision.” Or as Rondi Large, founder of the WildCare wildlife rehabilitation center near Noble said before the operation, "One of Rudolph’s sisters needs help.” Large said the fawn had been a most unusual case from the start, even for a wildlife center that has cared for more than 4,100 animals this year alone. Almost all deer are born in June or early July, she said, so for this one "to be born in October is unheard of.” The fawn arrived at WildCare on Oct. 4 — thus her nickname of 10-4 — when she was one or two days old. Both Large and Gwin said no one knows what damaged her eyes, whether it was a birth defect, a complication from not receiving deer milk, or some other cause. "When she came in, her eyes were already a little cloudy,” Large said.