Theodore Corwin, MD, a Westlake Village, Calif, plastic surgeon, usually performs aesthetic procedures on humans. So when he was faced with the challenge of performing his first-ever procedure on an animal—an aspiring celebrity kangaroo named Feznick—he, well, “jumped” at it.
The 4-year-old, 75-pound kangaroo lives on a Los Angeles-area farm for animal actors used at corporate events, in movies, and in advertisements. (He hopped down the red carpet last year during the opening of the movie Kangaroo Jack.) After being bitten by a wolf, Feznick needed plastic surgery to reconstruct his lip and save his burgeoning acting career.
That’s when Corwin stepped in. “He was missing part of one side of the lip and it made him look ugly—and his tooth was sticking out,” he says.
Corwin performed the 2-hour surgery—his first ever on an animal—in a veterinarian’s operating room. His surgical nurse, Jeanine Rich, found the surroundings familiar.
“It looks like people surgery in a way, except the patient is a little hairier,” she says.
The procedure, which involved about 25 stitches, still presented its challenges.
“The biggest difference between humans and kangaroos is that the kangaroo has a natural cleft in the middle of the upper lip, so the lip doesn’t go straight across—it goes up into the nose,” Corwin explains.
“If I had been operating on a human, we would have just pulled the lip straight across and sewn one side to the other,” he continues. “But because we had this cleft in the middle, it made it more difficult to pull this thing across over the tooth. We managed to do it.”
Now, 3 months after the surgery, Feznick is healing just fine. “I’ve talked to the vet who takes care of these animals, and he said all’s well,” Corwin says. “He’s healing well, eating fine, and looks good.”
Eadie McMullan, Feznick’s owner, says he might still have trouble developing an acting career.
“I’m just glad to have him look normal,” she says.
[The Sydney Morning Herald, May 4, 2006; Science Daily, February 7, 2006]