Penguins saved by keyhole surgery at Edinburgh Zoo

Penguin Romain Pizzi has performed 22 operations in four years on birds that have swallowed stones, coins, gloves, lollipop sticks and children's socks

A vet has said he uses keyhole surgery to remove lollipop sticks and coins swallowed by penguins at Edinburgh Zoo.

Romain Pizzi is an expert at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland which runs Edinburgh Zoo, home to more than 70 Gentoo penguins.

Mr Pizzi has performed 22 operations in four years on birds that have swallowed stones, coins, gloves, lollipop sticks and children's socks.

Even a leaf with a thick stalk can get stuck in a penguin's intestine.

Penguin's intestine

Mr Pizzi, 39, said he locates and often removes the foreign items during endoscopic surgery performed through a very small hole.

The procedure helps ensure the birds recover quickly and allows them back into the water.

He said: "Usually it's little sticks that people will poke through and the penguin will wolf it down before we can do anything.

"A penguin's intestine is very compact, with sharp angles, and even something like an oak leaf can cause problems."

The vet, who lives in Penicuik in Midlothian, spoke at the 8th International Penguin Conference in Bristol earlier this month.

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