The first successful cataract operation of an ostrich on record has been performed by veterinarians at Texas A&M University, school officials announced.

Ophthalmologists at the university's Texas Veterinary Medical Center removed a cataract from the left eye of an 18-month-old female ostrich shortly before Christmas.Veterinarian James Jensen, a specialist in the care of exotic animals, earlier this month called the surgery "an unqualified success" but said complications unrelated to the cataract make the bird's future uncertain.

Veterinarian Joan Dziezyc, who performed the surgery on the 260-pound bird, said the veterinarians do not know why the cataracts developed.

The ostrich, owned by a Louisiana exotic animal ranch, has been donated to the veterinary school for laboratory studies of hormone systems and reactions to antibiotics.

Without her eyesight, "it's possible she would starve," Dziezyc said. "If we send her back home, she probably will have forgotten where her food is."

Dziezyc said the birds have poor memory and need their sight to conduct a feathery courtship ritual that proceeds mating.