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 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," an aquarium biologist said of the 30-minute weekly treatments to continue indefinitely, as long as they show solid results.
Acupuncture on animals is becoming increasingly common around the globe, especially with pets such as cats, dogs, and horses, but Bino requires a few extra precautions, like the important first step of taping shut his lock-tight jaws full of sharp teeth. A veterinarian firmly presses the needles into his leathery white and yellow hide along his spine and around the area where the animal developed a hunchback, then gently strokes Bino's neck before removing them. The treatment complete, handlers help Bino back into a display pool. He moves easily and swishes his tail, gliding along the water as a gaggle of young schoolchildren squeal in delight. (Read more Brazil stories.)