13-foot alligator gets CT scan at Jungle Island, Miami

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A very unusual patient underwent a cat scan. Officials at Miami’s Jungle Island sent a gator for the scan after noticing he was not feeling well.

Casper is a 13-foot long, 252 pound, Leucistic alligator. Leucism is a condition that causes partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white skin, hair, feathers or scales – and blue eyes.

According to officials, the reptile, who is a popular attraction at Jungle Island, started exhibiting unusual behaviors including a loss in appetite and a decrease in weight.

So crews called in a mobile CT unit to scan the 19-year-old gator.

"We are extremely lucky that we have not only the ability to do a CT scan on animals nowadays, but these guys are mobile and they can drive up to our park and we only had to take Casper 35 yards instead of 15 miles, which is great,” explained Jason Chatfield, Jungle Island’s vice president of zoological operations.

They scanned his mouth and said they noticed some asymmetry – with the left side being a little bit bigger than the right. Casper also has a history of melanoma, according to Chatfield, so they want to make sure there’s not a problem spreading through his body.

“We took the mass off his back about 18 months ago, and so we'd like to scan the whole body, but that will depend on if the machine is big enough to handle the girth of Casper.  He's a big boy even with the weight loss, he's a big boy," Chatfield said. 

Zoo officials got the scan results Friday, but the images have to be sent to a radiologist, who has experience with alligators, before they get the final results.