March 19, 2009

Vet rebuilds ailing crocodile’s face

A veterinarian at the Miami Metrozoo has successfully rebuilt the face of a crocodile that had been injured by a car.

Zoo spokesman Ron Magill said the 10-foot-long reptile's face had been crushed by the car and it was unable to eat for three months as a result of the injury, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.

The crocodile was taken to the zoo and Dr. Douglas Mader of the Marathon Veterinary Hospital came up with a plan to reconstruct the croc's damaged mug.

We have a certain responsibility to our endangered, native species, Magill said Tuesday. It was either he die on the table today, or die a horrible, slow death.

During the four-hour surgery, Mader inserted metal rods and 41 metal screws into the crocodile's face to hold its skull and snout together. Mader said he hopes the surgery will allow the reptile -- which zoo staff have nicknamed RoboCroc -- to regain use of his mouth and eat.

Magill said zoo staff don't realistically expect the crocodile to live for very long but they remain hopeful.