Teams at the Vancouver Aquarium are well known for their work caring and treating for animals in the Aquarium and in the wild. But last week, they faced a new challenge, after the discovery of a blue and green stuffed python stranded in the Graham Amazon Gallery, with a one-inch tear on its tail.

Soon after the discovery, an email arrived from Andrea Hall, mom to Oscar (four) and Rocco (two) Staben, who was hoping to find the lost snake. The Staben family had been in Vancouver from Trail to visit BC Children’s Hospital for an important MRI scan. Before making the long journey home, Andrea brought Oscar and Rocco — along with their snake stuffies — to the Aquarium for a much-anticipated visit. And this is where Oscar’s snake, Pythie, was lost. “To most of us, it’s just a stuffed snake, but to Oscar, it’s his best friend. He cried most of the drive home,” said Andrea.

The Aquarium’s Visitor Experience team leapt into action, not only to reunite Pythie with its human, but to create a few special memories along the way.

Kelsey Smith, assistant manager of Visitor Experience, called on the help of head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena and the Aquarium’s veterinary team to address the snake’s injury. The vet team conducted a thorough physical exam, administering twelve sutures to repair the tear and monitoring the snake through post-operation recovery.

“Care and connection are at the heart of everything we do at the Vancouver Aquarium,” said Karen Howe, director of visitor experience at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative. “Our team saw an opportunity to turn a sad experience to a truly memorable moment and, in true Vancouver Aquarium style, there was no shortage of helping hands.”

Pythie, along with a treatment plan from the vet team for ‘love and hugs’ as well as some photos from Pythie’s adventures at the Aquarium, were delivered to the Staben family earlier this week. “Pythie has arrived safe and sound,” said Andrea. “Thank you for taking such great care of him and for the clean bill of health. It has meant the world to Oscar to see photos of Pythie’s adventures at the Aquarium. I have one truly appreciative little boy.”


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