Animals and Insects

Zoo says it found 70 coins inside alligator's stomach

A zoo is urging guests not to throw their coins into ponds after a routine exam revealed dozens of coins inside a gator's stomach.

Thibodaux, the Zoo's 36-year-old leucistic American alligator.
Thibodaux, a leucistic American alligator at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, said one of its alligators had 70 U.S. coins in its stomach, which was flagged during a routine exam. 

The zoo said Thibodaux, a 36-year-old leucistic American alligator, recently had a routine exam consisting of blood collection and radiographs. During the exam, veterinarians spotted foreign metal objects in Thibodaux's stomach. 

The vets then pulled 70 coins out of his stomach on Feb. 15 before the coins caused any problems. The zoo said Thibodaux is recovering well following the procedure. 

"With the help of his training, Thibodaux was anesthetized and intubated to allow us to safely manage him during the procedure," said Christina Ploog, an associate veterinarian at the zoo who led the procedure. "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.”

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Following the procedure, the zoo reminded guests not to throw objects, like metal coins, into bodies of water at the zoo. The zoo said it has a wishing well where guests can dispose of loose change. 

The zoo is home to 10 American alligators. Leucistic American alligators are more rare given their white skin does not allow them to camouflage themselves.