It was a fish out of water situation — literally — when a koi underwent a medical procedure at the San Diego Zoo recently.
The approximately 35-year-old koi had three masses removed from its body in mid-May, the San Diego Zoo said in a news release on Tuesday.
Wildlife care specialists first spotted a skin mass on the fish while it swam in its 18,500-gallon pond in the Terrace Garden area of the zoo, according to the release.
The koi was taken, via a tank, to the zoo’s veterinary hospital, where a veterinarian examined the fish’s masses on a table specially built for aquatic animals.
“The concern was that the masses could become ulcerated and affect deeper tissue,” Dr. Ben Nevitt, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, explained in the release. “Upon examining the fish, the masses seemed to only affect the scales in the area and not underlying skin, so the mass removals were pretty straightforward.”
A veterinarian removed the masses while the koi was under anesthesia; meanwhile, water was continuously run over the fish’s gills, allowing it to breathe.
Officials declared the procedure a success and returned the koi to its habitat that same day. Since then, the fish’s surgery sites have healed well and the koi is eating normally, according to the release.
While 35 years old may seem old for a fish, some koi have lived to the ripe old age of 200, the zoo noted.