When a largemouth bass arrived at the Oklahoma City Zoo's earlier this year, caretakers noticed the fish had a small piece missing from its left operculum - a hard cover that protects its gills and gill arches.
Since it was broken, this exposed its gills and gill arches to cohabitants and when injuries are visible to other fish, that often makes the injured party an easy target.
When caretakers noticed a gill arch was hanging down abnormally, the bass was taken to the Joan Kirkpatrick Animal Hospital for an exam. The fish had a broken gill arch and veterinary staff determined surgery was the best course of action.
The procedure went extremely well and the fish remained behind-the-scenes for two weeks post-surgery to ensure the arch healed properly. The animal was cleared by the vet staff and is now back in its habitat at Oklahoma Trails. Caretakers report the fish is recovering "swimmingly".
Guests visiting the Zoo can identify this fish by looking for a red spot near the left set of gills. This is because the operculum cannot regenerate, but the animal has adapted and is thriving without the gill arch.
-Kasey Throgmorton, lead aquarist