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70 coins removed from stomach of alligator at Nebraska zoo

An alligator at a zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, needed an emergency procedure late last week to remove dozens of coins from its stomach, zoo officials said.

A total of 70 metal coins were found inside Thibodaux, a 36-year-old alligator, according to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

“A plastic pipe was placed to protect his mouth and safely pass the tools used to access the coins, such as a camera that helped us guide the retrieval of these objects,” veterinarian Christina Ploog said in a statement from the zoo.

The coins were found during a routine examination on the animal. All were successfully removed.

Ploog believes the coins were likely thrown into the animal’s habitat by visitors.

“Guests should not throw coins into any bodies of water at the Zoo,” the facility said in a statement.

Rare type of alligator

The renowned zoo has 10 American alligators, and Thibodaux is a rare leucistic gator, which have translucent white skin and deep blue eyes, according to the Audubon Nature Institute.

Last year, an extremely rare – and extremely cute – leucistic alligator was born at Gatorland in Orlando, Florida.

Alligators are a subject of much fascination to people, whether in zoos or in the wild. Despite their deadly reputation and a population numbering in the millions in the Southeast, attacks on people are quite rare. And deaths from those attacks are even more rare.

CNN’s Forrest Brown contributed to this story.

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