Earlier this year, on January 9, 2020, Rocky, a sea otter at the Minnesota Zoo, had surgery to amputate his left rear flipper. The decision to perform this surgery came after months of caring for and diagnosing what appeared to be a bone infection in his rear flipper that was un-treatable. The pain of this infection was causing him to not use his flipper and impacting his quality of life. This was the first known surgery of its kind.

The days post-surgery entailed watching Rocky closely to make sure he was eating, getting his medication, grooming, and swimming. Swimming is such a natural and important activity for sea otters that Rocky actually went for his first swim just hours after surgery! For several months post-surgery, Rocky’s animal care staff worked with him closely to slowly get him back on his normal routine. He spent much time in the pools behind the scenes working on getting stronger and getting his daily medication. Follow-up examinations have shown that Rocky has healed well and our Zoo veterinarians are very pleased with his progress and his overall health.

Today, Rocky is no longer taking any medication and is back to his normal routine. He is no longer showing signs of pain or discomfort and he can be seen swimming daily in the sea otter habitat with his companions Capers and Jasper. Because Rocky is such an agile swimmer, one has to take a close look to even notice the absence of the once-problematic flipper. He is diving as well now as he once did with two rear flippers. Everyone at the Zoo is happy to see Rocky back to being his normal, energetic, otter-self! The animal care staff have been privileged to help Rocky through his recovery and words cannot describe how happy everyone is to see Rocky swimming and doing so well after this ground-breaking procedure. We hope you’ll stop by soon to visit Rocky along the Russia’s Grizzly Coast trail at the Zoo! https://bit.ly/2OQ76Hd