SAN ANTONIO (CBS Houston/AP) — Texas veterinarians have turned to acupuncture to treat the aching joints of a Komodo dragon at the San Antonio Zoo.

The San Antonio Express News reports the 20-year-old reptile named Bubba has received the treatment the past several weeks to treat degenerative bone disease in both knees. The zoo’s senior veterinarian says the dragon is receiving acupuncture in addition to traditional medicine to ease his movement.

Bubba’s treatments are weekly and last about 15-20 minutes. The vets use both traditional acupuncture as well as electroacupuncture, which sends electric pulses through the needles. The treatments are designed to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue.

“I can’t fix his knees but I can help him live with his knees,” Rob Coke, the zoo’s senior veterinarian and vet advisor for the Komodo dragon Species Survival Plan, told the newspaper.

According to the Mayo Clinic, acupuncture is meant to “stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue and appears to boost the activity of your body’s natural painkillers and increase blood flow.”

The International Veterinary Acupuncture Society report that veterinarians use acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions in animals: musculoskeletal, neurological, skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and some reproductive conditions.

It’s unclear how long the zoo will continue the sessions.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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