SA Zoo treats Komodo dragon’s arthritis with new procedure developed for dogs

Bubba was treated at Sage Veterinary Imaging in Austin

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo has found some relief for its arthritic Komodo dragon in a new procedure developed for use in dogs.

Bubba is the zoo’s 27-year-old Komodo dragon and he has severe arthritis. His caretakers at the zoo knew he was in pain because he would make audible sounds of discomfort with every step.

The 175-pound, 8.5-foot Komodo dragon has had regular acupuncture and other treatments but his mobility has been decreasing in recent years.

But the zoo has given him some relief with a relatively new procedure that’s used to reduce inflammation in arthritic joints of dogs.

The San Antonio Zoo has found some relief for its arthritic Komodo dragon in a new procedure developed for use in dogs.

Bubba is the first exotic animal in the world to be treated with Synovetin OA. Because the procedure can only be performed by licensed veterinarians at veterinary hospitals permitted to use internal radiation therapy, Bubba had to be transported to Sage Veterinary Imaging in Austin to have the procedure done.

“In my opinion, his quality of life has increased drastically,” said Craig Pelke, the zoo’s director of ectotherms. “He does not seem to have as much pain because he doesn’t make the audible sounds he would make with every step he knew there was pain and we don’t hear that anymore.”

Bubba is also moving more in his habitat at the zoo.

“He has more spring in his step these days,” said Dr. Jaime Sage, owner/radiologist at Sage Veterinary Imaging.

Komodo dragons are the world’s largest lizards and can only be found on five Indonesian islands. There are approximately 6000 remaining in the wild, according to the zoo. They usually live about 30 years in the wild.

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Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.