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A Komodo dragon underwent emergency surgery this week to remove a nearly one foot long rubber water bottle with a metal lid and carabiner.  These object was too large to be naturally passed by the animal and could not be extracted by endoscopy.  If not surgically removed, it could have caused a severe obstruction and eventually led to the animal’s death.

The surgery was performed on Wednesday morning and the entire procedure took nearly three hours. The animal is now recovering in a holding facility behind its habitat. Her name is “Estrella” and she hatched out at the Los Angeles Zoo in 2011.  She arrived at Zoo Miami in October of 2019, is approximately 6.5 feet long and weighs just over 40 pounds.  Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on earth and can reach a length of close to 10 feet while weighing close to 200 pounds.  They are considered vulnerable and are found on the islands of Komodo, Rintja, and Flores in Indonesia.

This morning, an American alligator was immobilized and brought to the Zoo Hospital after it was observed swallowing a large plastic water bottle that had fallen into its enclosure.  The 7 year old male is 8 ½ feet long and weighs 151 pounds.  It was hatched at the Everglades Alligator Farm and arrived at Zoo Miami in 2016.

After being X-rayed and then scoped to determine the exact location of the bottle, no evidence of the bottle could be found and it was decided that surgery was not necessary.  Apparently, the bottle must have been naturally passed by the alligator but since it has not been found in any other area of its habitat, there is a concern that it may have been consumed by another alligator so the staff is carefully observing the other 6 individuals for any signs of a digestive obstruction or other abnormalities.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents.  There have been several cases of different animals at Zoo Miami ingesting a wide variety of things ranging from sunglasses to cell phones which all present significant and possibly fatal threats to those animals.  It is imperative that zoo guests are extremely careful and have secured all of their personal belongings when observing animals in their habitats to help ensure that no objects fall into the exhibits and threaten the safety of those animals.

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