By: WXXV Staff
November 5, 2020
One of Mississippi Aquarium’s resident sand tiger sharks named Stella successfully underwent an innovative new spinal surgery on September 29th, performed by the veterinary team at Mississippi Aquarium and several specialists from across the country.
Stella was suffering from scoliosis and kyphosis, making her swim in an abnormal swim pattern. To correct the curvature of the spine, the aquarium’s veterinary services consulted with many veterinarians as well as human medical professionals.
The nature of the shark’s anatomy presented a couple hurdles for the surgical repair. Shark skeletons are made of cartilage and not bone and Stella would have to be out of water for a long period of time for the surgery.
Despite the obstacles and a short time table, the surgery was deemed a success. VP of Veterinary Services Dr. Alexa Delaune said, “It all happened really quickly. So, Stella was going downhill and I was getting the feeling that we needed to do something fairly quickly. So on a Thursday, I went to Kurt Allen, who is the CEO, and I said I think we need to do something. I think we need to do surgery. So, we furiously started calling people and by Tuesday we had everybody assembled. The surgery took place. So, it was really a testament to everyone’s generosity and willingness to help us that it could happen that quickly.”
Stella is currently at an offsite facility where she is recovering. Delaune says Stella is already swimming better than she was before surgery. However, she won’t be returning to the aquarium for another couple of months.