Tue, June 28, 2011
Technology > Science

Top medic operates on Emperor penguin in NZ

2011-06-28 03:00:41 GMT2011-06-28 11:00:41(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhuanet) -- One of New Zealand's top surgeons was enlisted to operate on an ailing Emperor penguin, nicknamed "Happy Feet", found on a beach near Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday.

Only the second Emperor penguin ever recorded in New Zealand, "Happy Feet" was taken to the Wellington Zoo last Friday after it began eating sand in a bid to cool down. Emperor penguins in the Antarctic eat snow when they get too hot.

More used to dealing with sick humans than poorly penguins, surgeon John Wyeth, the head of gastroenterology at Wellington Hospital and a past president of the New Zealand Society of Gastroenterology, performed a delicate two-hour operation on the bird, which has suffered declining health.

Assisted by a six-person medical team, Wyeth performed an endoscopy to remove twigs, stones and sand which had been clogging the penguin's gut, feeding a tiny camera down its throat then looping a line around the debris.

"I wasn't familiar with the anatomy... if I did a similar procedure in a human it would take me 10 minutes," said Wyeth.

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