Staff at the Bristol Zoo Gardens in the UK have just saved the life of one fashionable tortoise. Buzz60’s Tony Spitz has the details.
It’s not every day that you see a tortoise wrapped in a colorful bandage – but whilst Rocky may look funny there is a serious reason for it.
Staff at Bristol Zoo Gardens had noticed the 16-year-old pancake tortoise was not laying eggs as regularly as she normally does.
The Zoo’s vets x-rayed her and discovered an egg was lodged in one of her oviducts and it was preventing a second egg from being laid.
Rocky was given a number of injections to try to help her pass the retained egg but it remained in place.
The decision was taken to carry out an operation and Rocky was put under general anesthetic in the Zoo’s operating theater.
The surgery carried out by head vet Michelle Barrows assisted by vet Sara Shopland and veterinary nurse Teresa Horspool lasted about an hour.
Michelle used a diamond cutting disc to make small incisions in the underside of Rocky’s shell.
She said: “Because Rocky is a pancake tortoise her shell is very thin and I was then able to use a pair of scissors to make a flap.”
The 5cm square flap in the underneath of Rocky’s shell allowed Michelle to reach the trapped eggs and remove them along with her ovaries.
Michelle said: “It was important to do this because we didn’t want her to have the same problem in the future.”
She said had Rocky not undergone the surgery her life could have been at risk.
Following the removal of the eggs and ovaries Michelle replaced the flap in Rocky’s shell and held it in place with two stitches.
Rocky is now undergoing regular checks to ensure she makes a smooth recovery. Michelle said Rocky will probably have to keep the bandage around her shell for a couple of months.
The popular pancake tortoise has now been returned to the Zoo’s Conservation and Education Centre where she lives.
When she is fully recovered Rocky will again appear in the daily education sessions at the Zoo.