Just like us, animals can get the occasional boo-boo, and some are serious enough to require surgical attention. Thankfully, as veterinary medicine progresses, animals have more options when it comes to dealing with health issues. From bears having brain surgery to a shark cesarean section, many animals have endured surprising surgical procedures. Read on to find out what animals have seen the operating room and are happy and healthy today because of it.
CASTRO THE TIGER
Sacramento Zoo's Siberian tiger Castro finally found some relief when doctors removed several obstructions in his urinary tract. The procedure took some extra muscle because of the animal's size, but was a success overall. This surgery was an important step for Castro, who is also battling lymphoma. Doctors believe that if Castro continues to respond well to treatment and operations, his outlook for beating the cancer is good. (ABC News)
CHAMPA THE BEAR
Asiatic black bear Champa became the first animal of his kind to get brain surgery. This sweetie was saved from the bear bile farming industry and brought to a sanctuary in Laos. Caretakers noticed upon Champa's arrival that the bear seemed slower than the other bears and less coordinated. As her behavior continued to decline, staff decided to ask for medical help. It became clear that Champa had water on the brain. Not wanting to euthanize the animal, a surgical vet was called in to perform the first keyhole brain surgery on a bear. The whole procedure took six hours and required some improvising. In the end, all the excess fluid was removed and Champa is now relieved and socializing normally. (National Geographic)
LILLI THE CALF
Little Lilli captured hearts when she made national news for being born with six legs. Even though Lilli had two extra legs protruding from her side, she didn't let the additional limbs keep her from having fun. But doctors were worried that those extra parts could cause serious problems down the line for the calf. To ensure Lilli grew up to be a happy cow, the unnecessary limbs were removed in a four-hour operation. The surgery went swimmingly, and now Lilli is contentedly prancing around the fields of an Austrian animal sanctuary.
KABANG THE HERO DOG
Kabang became a Web star and true hero when he jumped in front of an oncoming motorcycle to save two girls in the Philippines. While Kabang survived the accident, the dog lost his snout and upper jaw. The injuries left the courageous canine open to infection and other serious health issues. Moved by Kabang's story, thousands of animal lovers worldwide donated to help the dog get the surgery he needed. Kabang was flown to the United States where doctors grafted skin to cover and protect the sensitive areas of the dog's face. Kabang is now fully healed and back home living as close to a normal life as a celebrity/hero canine can. (BBC)
SARAH THE DOLPHIN
Sarah has dedicated her life to helping others, working as a therapy animal for children with autism and cerebral palsy. Luckily, someone was there to help Sarah when she needed it, too. Caretakers at Island Dolphin Care noticed that Sarah was having trouble breathing, and took the animal to experts for a CT. The scan showed that one of Sarah's airways was letting in only 20 percent of the oxygen she needed. To help Sarah, the care center contacted a pulmonologist for humans. The doctor agreed to perform a procedure previously only done on humans. Sarah trained for the operation for several weeks and then was taken in for surgery. Under the watchful eye of a dozen or so professionals, a balloon was inserted into the problematic airway and inflated to open the area. Thankfully, the operation worked, and Sarah is out of the OR and back in the water, helping others. (Today)
TSAVO THE LION
It's hard to have ferocious roar with a tumor in your mouth. Poor Tsavo has been dealing with this issue for some time, but after four radiation treatments, things are starting to look better. The tumor has responded to the sessions and has been shrinking from the beginning. Now vets at University of Tennessee's Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville get the unique and special experience of removing the tumor from the lion's mouth and helping him back to his normal life as king of the jungle.
STAR THE DOG
Dog owners are used to finding their dogs indulging in their unusual appetites, but Star's cravings landed her in the hospital. The curious dog with an iron stomach swallowed 80 rocks while nosing around her backyard. The Jack Russell Terrier was rushed to an animal hospital when her owner noticed a strange crunchy sound coming from the dog's stomach. Star was taken to emergency surgery to prevent the stones from passing any further through her body and causing serious damage. The operation was a success. All the stones were removed and Star was back to playing in no time, only now under a more watchful eye.
SeaWorld's Discovery Zone completed the first shark C-section this year. Staff had to act fast when one of their whitetip reef sharks started experiencing issues with her pregnancy. The procedure was a success and produced three healthy shark pups. Mom and her new brood we allowed several weeks of alone time after the operation to bond and recover from the historic surgery.
C'SAR THE ELEPHANT
At least these contact lenses won't be hard to find. Thanks to dedicated doctors, C'sar the elephant has had several eye surgeries and is now ready for the first pair of elephant contact lenses ever made. Zookeepers began to worry about C'sar when he started losing weight and became lethargic. Staff traced these behavior issues to a vision problem. The elephant received two surgeries for cataracts, but was still a bit farsighted, so contacts were the answer. C'sar's new lenses are about the size of tennis balls, so surely they are something he will never forget. (Time)
Next: Animals With Extra Parts
CORKY THE CAT
Corky was born with an unique and troublesome mutation — she has backwards legs. While her paws may look funny, they did not cause Corky any pain, but they did make it hard to get around. Wanting Corky to have a normal life full of frolicking and action, his owner took the kitty to a vet for help. The doctor was willing to right Corky's legs, which took a series of complicated surgeries and intense therapy sessions. Sadly, Corky lost one leg due to complications, but there is a happy ending. Corky has adapted to tripod life and is up and bounding around.