When we go anywhere, we need to be wary about the garbage we leave behind. It can do plenty of damage to the environment around us. In fact, at Zoo Miami staff had to perform an emergency surgery on a Komodo dragon that swallowed a water bottle that had been dropped into her enclosure.
Estrella, the 9-year-old Komodo dragon, was lucky that she didn’t die since the rubber water bottle could’ve easily caused a major obstruction.
Zoo official Ron Magill shared with WSVN that the water bottle had a metal cap with a clip on the end, and when they got it out, the entire thing measured a foot long!
Zookeepers said that the 6.5-foot-long reptile couldn’t naturally pass such a large item and needed to have it removed through a procedure called an endoscopy. The entire process took almost three hours.
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Magill stated, “The surgery on Estrella was fairly extensive. You always have the risk, especially with reptiles, sometimes the immobilization and the anesthesia itself can have more risk than the surgery. We had to move several layers of muscle and skin to get to the stomach.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that lost objects have been found inside animal enclosures. Magill revealed that over the years there have been other incidents similar to Estrella’s ordeal.
He shared that it’s an ongoing problem that the zoo has to face, particularly with animals consuming these foreign objects that get dropped into their pens. As he mentioned, many of the items that they’d either found or had to extract from the stomachs of animals have varied from cell phones, sunglasses, hearing aids, and pacifiers.
One alligator at the zoo even had to be put under anesthetic in order for zookeepers to get an x-ray of the animal’s stomach after it was spotted consuming trash. Fortunately in that case, surgery wasn’t necessary as they found that there wasn’t anything in his stomach. Of course, just because there wasn’t a cause for alarm with the alligator doesn’t mean that the zookeepers aren’t constantly concerned about the health and well being of the animals in their care.
Magill, along with other zoo employees, are hopeful that the images and stories of what they have found inside their animals will eventually make the message loud and clear for future visitors to be more mindful of their items.
Magill said, “We understand that most of these incidents are by accident, people dropping things into the exhibit, but we need visitors to be more cognizant to the fact that these things can create severe damage to the animals.”
As a result, Magill cautioned that if visitors accidentally drop an item, or if they spot a foreign object that shouldn’t be in the enclosure, to alert a staff member immediately in order to be able to prevent accidental consumption by the animal. Hopefully, Estrella’s story will remind people to keep an eye on all their personal belongings.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.