A Nebraska zoo removes 70 coins from the stomach of a white alligator

In a remarkable medical intervention, veterinarians at the renowned Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska, successfully performed surgery on a distinctive and rare leucistic alligator, known affectionately as Thibodaux.

The operation was necessitated by an alarming discovery: the 36-year-old alligator, celebrated for his unique translucent white skin and striking blue eyes, had ingested 70 coins thrown into his enclosure by visitors.

The issue came to light during a comprehensive health assessment of the zoo’s alligator community, which includes ten individuals.

This routine examination, aimed at ensuring the well-being of these majestic reptiles, involves thorough checks such as blood tests and radiographic imaging. It was during this process that the veterinary team identified the metallic foreign objects within Thibodaux’s stomach.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, the zoo’s medical team, led by Associate Veterinarian Dr. Christina Ploog, acted swiftly to mitigate any potential health risks. The procedure, while uncommon, highlighted the zoo’s commitment to the care and preservation of its inhabitants.

Dr. Ploog, utilizing specialized equipment and techniques, ensured a safe and effective removal of the coins, underlining the dangers posed by such foreign objects when ingested by wildlife.

The surgery’s success was a testament to the professionalism and dedication of the zoo staff, as well as the efficacy of Thibodaux’s training, which facilitated a smoother and safer intervention.

Following the operation, the zoo reported that Thibodaux had made a full recovery and had been reintegrated into his habitat, much to the relief of his caregivers and admirers.

In the wake of this incident, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has issued a heartfelt plea to its patrons, urging them to refrain from tossing coins or any other objects into animal enclosures. Such actions, while seemingly benign, pose significant health risks to the animals.

The zoo also reassured the public that regular habitat cleanings are conducted to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the animals’ living environments.

The episode serves as a crucial reminder of the unintended consequences human actions can have on wildlife, prompting a collective call for more responsible behavior from zoo visitors to protect the well-being of these remarkable creatures.

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