Acupuncture helps ailing alligator in Brazil (Update)

Aug 28, 2013 by Ana Pereira
Bino, the albino alligator, receives acupuncture treatment in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug 27, 2013. Veterinarians at the Sao Paulo aquarium have found a novel treatment for Bino, who suffers from hunchback and scoliosis: acupuncture. Once a week, several needles are inserted into Bino's back and the treatment is working. He's already able to twitch his tail again and move his back legs, which until recently he was unable to do. (AP Photo/Ana Pereira)

Bino's back was killing him. He was suffering from scoliosis. He couldn't move his legs, two of them anyway, and his tail just wouldn't swish.

What's an albino alligator in that sort of health bind to do? Acupuncture, naturally.

Bino the albino alligator lives at the Sao Paulo Aquarium, where he's been since 2007. Veterinarians said Wednesday that he was born eight years ago with his ailments, and nothing seemed to alleviate them.

So, in early 2011 veterinarians decided to see if acupuncture might help Bino, as it has other animals living at the aquarium.

"The acupuncture will ... alleviate his pain and keep all his vital functions going," said Rafael Gutierrez, a biologist at the aquarium of Sao Paulo, adding that the 30-minute weekly treatments would continue indefinitely, as long as they kept showing solid results.

Acupuncture on animals is becoming increasingly common around the globe, the biologists at the Sao Paulo aquarium said, especially with pets such as cats, dogs and horses. The use of acupuncture on animals began thousands of years ago in China.

In the U.S., the number of veterinarians who hold membership in the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture has jumped 50 percent in the last few years to 900 doctors, said Simon Flynn, the executive director of the academy that's based in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

"There are many zoo veterinarians who use acupuncture, a number of equine practitioners who treat race horses with acupuncture, it's proven to be a useful treatment," Flynn said. "It's common with dogs and it's becoming increasingly common with cats. More veterinarians are seeing the worth of the treatment."

Typical ailments treated by acupuncture include neck and back issues, skin problems and pain in general, among other complaints, said Flynn.

Bino the Sao Paulo alligator requires a few precautions not needed with your average house cat. Inserting the needles into Bino's back requires the important first step of taping shut his lock-tight jaws full of sharp teeth.

Bino wrestles around a bit as the tape is applied, but soon calms down.

Veterinarian Daniela Cervaletti then slides behind Bino, firmly pressing the needles into his leathery white and yellow hide. The needles are inserted along his spine and around the area where the animal developed a hunchback.

Bino doesn't move at all as nearly a dozen needles go in.

Cervaletti gently strokes the side of Bino's neck after she applies them all, then waits several minutes before removing them.

The treatment complete, handlers help Bino back into a display pool, his white skin stark against brown fake rocks painted with foliage.

He moves easily and swishes his tail, gliding along the water as a gaggle of young schoolchildren in matching blue and gray uniforms squeal in delight, faces pressed up against the glass separating them from Bino.

Explore further: Placebo effects of different therapies not identical

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Placebo effects of different therapies not identical

Jul 31, 2013

Not all placebos are equal, and patients who respond to one placebo don't always respond to others, according to research published July 31 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jian Kong from Massachusetts General Hospit ...

Slow pokes: Acupuncture helps hypothermic turtles

May 21, 2013

Two endangered sea turtles that are shells of their former selves after getting stranded on Cape Cod during a cold spell are getting some help easing back into the wild—from an acupuncturist.

Acupuncture is equally effective with simulated needles

Mar 24, 2011

sometimes referred to as placebo - is just as beneficial as real acupuncture for treating nausea in cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy, according to a study from Karolinska Institutet and Linkoping University in Sweden. ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jscroft
1 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2013
You just know there's a taxpayer behind this somewhere. How very pleased he must be!
Gmr
1 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2013
So, where's the control where the needles are inserted randomly, or no needles are inserted at all and instead he just gets regular handling?

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.