Nebraska zoo veterinarians remove 70 coins from alligator’s stomach

Thibodaux and coins.

OMAHA, Neb. — Officials at a Nebraska zoo are asking visitors not to throw coins into the waters in the facility’s alligator exhibit after 70 U.S. coins were found in the stomach of one of the reptiles.

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Veterinarians at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium found the currency while doing routine examinations of the 10 alligators at the facility, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

In a Facebook post on Friday, zoo officials said that some “metal foreign objects” were found on Feb. 15 in the stomach of 36-year-old Thibodaux, a leucistic American alligator.

The reptile, known for his rare white color, underwent a procedure at the zoo to prevent any possible health issues, the World-Herald reported.

“With the help of his training, Thibodaux was anesthetized and intubated to allow us to safely manage him during the procedure,” Christina Ploog, an associate veterinarian at the zoo who led the procedure, said in a statement. “A plastic pipe was placed to protect his mouth and safely pass the tools used to access the coins, such as a camera that helped us guide the retrieval of these objects.”

An X-ray image confirmed that all the coins were successfully removed from Thibodaux’s stomach, zoo officials wrote on Facebook. The alligator has been released back to his habitat in the zoo.

Ploog said the procedure was “disheartening” because most of the coins were likely tossed by guests who do not realize that the currency could be harmful to the alligators.

“Kind of the assumption is that the coins are being tossed in the mouth of the alligator, because they’re so thin, for them to be able to get it off the ground would be very difficult,” Ploog told KETV.

Zoo officials said that alligators can sweep the bottom of their enclosures and scoop up coins, so they urged visitors to keep their change to themselves.

“Any loose change can instead be turned in for a souvenir coin in one of the several machines around the Zoo or in our coin wishing well located in the atrium of the Desert Dome,” zoo officials wrote on Facebook.

Thibodaux is a rare species of alligator, CNN reported. Leucistic gators have translucent white skin and deep blue eyes, according to the Audubon Nature Institute.

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