St. Louis Zoo Asks Guests Not to Toss Objects into Exhibits After X-Ray Finds Coin in Alligator

Zookeepers were alarmed when a routine exam indicated that one of its animals had a "foreign object" in its gut.

On Monday, the Saint Louis Zoo in Missouri posted a video on Facebook in which they updated followers on two of their Chinese alligators. Dr. Chris Hanley, assistant director of animal health, said the zoo's medical team recently conducted routine wellness exams on their male and female gator pair. The male looked in tip-top shape, while the female had what appeared to be, based on x-rays, a coin inside her stomach.

The female gator's exam included an abdominal ultrasound to check and see if she had produced any eggs yet, and it appeared she had follicles developing that could soon lead to viable eggs, caretakers found. Hanley, however, noted that the metal object located via an X-ray scan is concerning to the zookeepers, who worry the object came from a park visitor at some point.

"On an X-ray, metal is white, so that is a foreign object," he said, displaying the scans with the opaque circular object showing up in the alligator's right side. "It's probably a coin that was tossed or fell into her exhibit. It poses a risk to our animals when these things are put into their exhibit."

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Right now, the animal is "clinically healthy," according to Hanley, who added that they will "remove that coin at a later date," using a gastroscopic procedure with the animal under general anesthesia.

Both alligators received physical examinations, whole-body radiographs, and blood was collected for a CBC and biochemical profile, the zoo said.

"Please be careful around our open habitats. Animals can ingest anything that might accidentally fall in," the zoo wrote along with the video. "If that happens, please find a Zoo employee and let them know, or call the Be Kind Line phone number listed on a nearby sign."

"Thank you for helping to protect our animals!" added the zoo, which is home to more than 13,000 animals.

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