Story By: Ana Lacasa, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: CEN
Video Credit: CEN/Oceanografic Valencia
This is the moment a huge sea lion undergoes surgery on a mysteriously deformed jaw and can then be seen happily eating fish and flapping around after the operation.
The surgery was performed after staff at the Oceanografic aquarium in the Spanish city of Valencia noticed the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) had a serious jaw injury.
A spokesperson from the aquarium told Central European News (CEN): “The sea lion woke up like that, when we arrived at the facility we saw that she had a deformity in her jaw and the vets were called. They took photos to determine the injury and she had a CT scan.”
Pictures Credit: CEN/Oceanografic Valencia
Staff from the veterinarian hospital of the Catholic University of Valencia worked with the aquarium vets on the surgery to fix the deformity.
The two-hour surgery was reportedly difficult from a technical standpoint but Ivan Serra, a surgeon from the hospital, explained that titanium was successfully placed in the sea lion’s jaw to help it recover.
Experts say it will be ready to be released back into the main group at the aquarium in 20 or 20 days. The sea lion, called Laura, is currently in a smaller group of calmer females.
In the video, a group of vets can be seen carrying the anaesthetised sea lion into the operating theatre on a stretcher before the operation begins.
Vets can then be seen checking Laura’s jaw before she happily munches in some fish fed to her by a handler.
Serra said: “The intervention was complex because of the anatomical conditions of the animal which does not have a lot of places to put the implants, the risk of contamination and because she is a patient that is not used to undergoing surgeries, so that the provision is more difficult to be done.”
It took four days of recovery before the sea lion could begin eating again, according to Serra.
A spokesperson told CEN: “We do not know the origin of the injury because the park was closed at the time.”