Minnesota Zoo sea otter recovering from first-of-its-kind flipper amputation

A sea otter at the Minnesota Zoo is back on exhibit after recovering from what is believed to be the first flipper amputation ever performed on that species. 

Last June, zookeepers noticed Rocky, one of the sea otters in the Russia’s Grizzly Coast exhibit, was not using his back left flipper and having difficulty getting out of the water onto land, according to a news release. The zoo’s veterinarians treated him for a possible infection, but eventually it became clear he would not regain comfortable use of his flipper. 

Rocky underwent a four-hour surgery on Jan. 9 to remove his back flipper. To set him up for a successful recovery, the veterinarians performed the surgery on-site to reduce anesthesia time and stress. 

The zoo said it has been a “smooth recovery” for Rocky. After several days recovering in the behind-the-scenes area, he is back in his public habitat with his sea otter companions, Capers and Jasper.