The 9-year-old reptile, named Estrella, had to undergo the procedure, zoo officials said, to prevent death from a severe obstruction

By Nicholas Rice
July 09, 2020 03:07 PM
Ron Magill

A Komodo dragon at Zoo Miami needed to undergo emergency surgery this week to remove a rubber water bottle she had swallowed after a visitor dropped it into the animal's enclosure, according to zoo officials.

The 9-year-old reptile, named Estrella, had to undergo the procedure, or else she could have died from a severe obstruction caused by the bottle.

"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," Zoo Miami's Ron Magill told WSVN.

According to zookeepers, the bottle was too large to be naturally passed through the 6.5-foot-long animal and it could not be extracted by endoscopy. The surgery to remove it took nearly three hours.

Ron Magill
Ron Magill

"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," Magill told the outlet. "We had to move several layers of muscle and skin to get to the stomach."

Magill also noted that it was unfortunately not an isolated incident as visitors’ lost objects have been found inside exhibits and inside other animals over the years.

"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," he shared. "We’ve found everything from cell phones, sunglasses, hearing aids, tons of pacifiers that we have taken out of the bellies of these animals."

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Previously at the zoo, 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.

And though there happened to be nothing in the alligator's stomach, Magill said there are still concerns for the other gators in the enclosure.

Magill shared, "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."

Ron Magill

Magill and other zoo officials are hopeful that images that they have shared of guests' items found in the zoo's exhibits and animals 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 shared.

He also recommended that if visitors happen to drop an item inside of an enclosure or notice an object that shouldn’t be there, they should let a staff member know immediately as it may prevent future harm to the animals.