In Patna, India, a team of vets removed over 176 pounds of plastic waste from a cow’s stomach. The surgery was carried out by doctors at the Bihar veterinary college, and the whole unfortunate ordeal is a very strong reminder of what can happen to our plastic once we are done with it.

“This is the first case in my 13 years of professional practice when we removed over 80 kgs of polythene waste from the stomach of a cow,” said doctor GD Singh, assistant professor of surgery and radiology who had led the surgery.

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The operation lasted over three hours. The patient, a six-year-old cow, was brought to the hospital because he was not eating properly and, finally, stopped eating altogether.  Singh pointed out that letting animals graze in urban areas can be very dangerous. “People should also avoid throwing eatables in polythene bags and serious efforts should be made to spread awareness about its bad impact on the environment,” he said.

In most large cities in India, cattle are allowed to graze freely in open land and they often end up investigating garbage bins. Since so much food waste is disposed of in plastic bags and various plastics can be found in every bin, the animals unavoidably end up consuming the dangerous material. Once ingested, plastic releases toxins into the animal’s body and can cause life-threatening intestinal blockages.

“Apart from the plastic completely choking the digestive system of the cow and causing excruciating pain to the animal, plastic residues enter the human food chain through dairy and animal products,” said a report conducted by Karuna Society for Animals and Nature.

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The case is not without precedent. In March 2017, vets removed over 66 pounds of plastic from the belly of a cow at Jatlapalem village, Andhra Pradesh. In September 2016, doctors of Jivdaya Charitable Trust in Ahmedabad found over 220 pounds of plastic in the stomach of an operated cow.

The awareness of the deadly effects of plastic on marine animals is now fortunately spreading. Cases like this one, however, show that it is not only marine wildlife that suffers the effects of plastic ingestion. And, if we go on as we do now when it comes to our plastic habits, they will be only more and more numerous.

To learn what you can do to help the planet by making conscious choices regarding your plastic consumption, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

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Image source: Hindustan Times