Komodo dragon at Zoo Miami undergoes emergency surgery after eating rubber bottle dropped in exhibit

MIAMI (WSVN) - Animals at Zoo Miami have apparently been eating more than their recommended diets provided by zoo keepers.

The animals had to undergo emergency procedures after eating things that were either dropped into or accidentally fell into the enclosures.

Now the zoo is pleading with guests to be more careful.

Ron Magill of Zoo Miami said, “We’ve found everything from cell phones, sunglasses, hearing aids, tons of pacifiers that we have taken out of the bellies of these animals.”

Visitors’ lost objects have been found inside exhibits and in extreme cases, inside animals.

Items removed from animals’ stomachs. (Courtesy: Zoo Miami)

Magill said, “This is an ongoing issue at the zoo and a problem at the zoo with these animals consuming something that was dropped in their exhibits.”

The zoo shared the effect of these objects have had on the animals, releasing several photos of a surgery performed on a Komodo dragon named Estrella.

Magill said, “We had to pull out this massive, it was about a foot long, this water bottle with a metal cap on it and a clip at the end. The whole nine yards.”

The 9-year-old reptile underwent a risky procedure to remove the bottle.

Magill said, “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.”

Estrella has not been the only animal that had to undergo treatment.

An alligator was sedated so officials could perform an X-ray after it was seen eating trash.

“Fortunately, we didn’t have to do surgery on him. We did an X-ray, and we did an endoscopy. We put a camera down his throat to make sure there was nothing in his belly, and there was nothing there,” Magill said.

Though there was nothing in his stomach, Magill said there are still concerns for the other gators in the enclosure.

Magill said, “Even though that alligator had been seen consuming it, obviously he had passed it, so now our big concern is, since it wasn’t seen in the exhibit, he may have passed it and another alligator may have eaten it.”

Magill and other zoo officials hope these images will push visitors to be more careful.

“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,” Magill said.

Magill said Estrella is recovering well. He also recommended that if visitors drop something inside an enclosure or notice an object that shouldn’t be there, to let a staff member know.

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