Bucky the dolphin, 48 years old and a much-loved resident of Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, is winning his decade-long battle against cancer.
Rescued as an infant from the Nambucca River suffering extreme sunburn and dehydration, he was brought back to DMCP for rehabilitation.
Deemed unable to be returned to the wild, the park became his home.
Bucky was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008 when carers noticed an ulcer in the back of his mouth. However, after successful surgery, the disease went into remission.
Recently Bucky's cancer returned and invaded his lymphatic system. After consulting with experts worldwide, DMCP veterinarian Dr Duan March decided surgery to remove the cancerous node before it spread was the only hope.
It was a tough decision to make as cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are challenging to anaesthetise, and in most cases, do not survive the procedure.
USA expert James Bailey came to Australia to anaesthetise Bucky and Dr Maureen Thompson brought her team from Brisbane to perform the surgery.
Many other notable Australian veterinarians and vet nurses assisted in this groundbreaking procedure.
Never before in the world has a dolphin of Bucky's age been anaesthetised, operated on with such invasive surgery and survived.
It was a risk. But because it was Bucky, it was a risk worth taking.
Surgery was on March 30 with the operation conducted with a team of more than 20 in attendance. Remarkably and to everyone's relief, the procedure was a success.
Bucky has made medical history.
The information gained from his operation is invaluable and now available to help in the care and welfare of cetaceans worldwide.
"Bucky is a true hero. Everyone at DMCP, especially the team of carers and other staff who helped in his operation and recovery have expressed enormous thanks and sincere appreciation to Dr James Bailey, Dr Maureen Thompson, Dr Duan March and the team of professionals who worked on Bucky," DMCP Managing Director, Terry Goodall, said.
Now, after two months of careful rehabilitation, he is recovering exceptionally well. He remains under constant monitoring, but all indications are that Bucky's remarkable recovery will continue.
He has rejoined playmates Calamity, Jet, Zipper and Bella and is looking forward to seeing his many admirers, showing off his scar, which is healing well, and throwing his football to passing guests.