Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Penguins saved by keyhole surgery

Some of the Gentoo penguins of Edinburgh Zoo. Many of them have to get keyhole surgery to remove items like lollipop sticks

A vet has said he uses keyhole surgery to remove lollipop sticks and coins swallowed by inquisitive penguins.

Romain Pizzi is an expert in minimally-invasive surgery at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland which runs Edinburgh Zoo, home to more than 70 Gentoo penguins.

Mr Pizzi has performed 22 operations in four years on birds that have swallowed everything from stones and coins to gloves, lollipop sticks and children's socks.

Even leaves with woody stalks can cause complications if they find their way into a penguin's intestine.

Mr Pizzi, 39, can locate and often remove the foreign items during endoscopic surgery performed through a very small hole. This helps ensure the birds recover quickly and allows them back into the water.

He said: "Usually it's little sticks that people will poke through and the penguin will wolf it down before we can do anything.

"A penguin's intestine is very compact, with sharp angles, and even something like an oak leaf can cause problems."

The vet, who lives in Penicuik in Midlothian, spoke at the 8th International Penguin Conference in Bristol earlier this month.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz