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Bee the stingray returns to OdySea Aquarium following successful surgery

(OdySea Aquarium photo)

PHOENIX — A first-of-its kind surgery on an injured stingray from the OdySea Aquarium was deemed successful by Animal Care and Conservation director, Dave Peranteau.

“Any time you perform a surgery on an aquatic animal, the risks and complications increase simply by having to take the animal out of water,” Peranteau said in a statement.

Director of Animal Health Dr. Eric Anderson performed the surgery following a difficult diagnosis that was set back after a gastroscopy, colonoscopy and ultrasounds came back normal.

“We kept moving ahead, eliminating what we could, until we found answers for this much-loved stingray,” Anderson said.

The honeycomb whiptail stingray, named Bee, has been a popular star since the attraction was opened in 2016. The female is known for her honeycomb-like pattern of large black and yellow rings.

She joins another stingray named Bumble, a male honeycomb whiptail stingray, and other sea life in the exhibit.

She began refusing food for several days, though, which prompted an evaluation at the aquarium’s off-site facility.

“After a battery of tests revealed no definitive diagnosis, it was more than a little frustrating,” Anderson said.

A diagnosis was finally determined after doctors noticed a dark liquid coming from the back her body while feeding Bee a “seafood gruel” placed through her mouth and into her stomach through a tube.

The dark liquid contained fish vertebrae that were not ingredients from the gruel and helped doctors determine there was a hole in the stingray’s intestines.

Bee was then anesthetized and surgery was performed to save the animal’s life.

“I knew many of the animal care team were bracing for the worst but hoping for the best,” Anderson said.

Surgery was initially successful, but about a month later the incision was re-opened. She underwent another procedure and is now recovering. Bee returned to the Aquarium’s Voyager exhibit last week.

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