10/27/2009 at 05:27 PM EDT
How do you operate on a shark? Very, very carefully!
Just ask veterinarian Nick Masters. He surgically removed a corroded hook from the mouth of a 6-ft.-long shark named Florence at the Weymouth Sealife centre in Dorset, England.
Though Florence was anesthetized for the surgery that took place last month, there was a chance the slippery sucker could wake up during the 45-minute procedure, which was reportedly the first in England.
"I'd never operated on a shark before," Masters told U.K.'s Telegraph
. "There was also an element of risk involved on my part as anesthetizing a shark isn't a precise science and it could have come round."
The rusty hook, a standard fishing hook, was embedded in Florence's upper jaw and had been there for some time. Corrosion of the hook caused the shark to become ill.
Thankfully, the Florence remained "asleep" as Masters put his hands in her gaping jaws. "To be honest I didn't expect the fish to survive the surgery," he said. "Because I didn't think it was going to get through the anesthetic."
Now recovered, Florence is doing really well in her new home at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, a rep for Sea Life, Mark Oakley, tells PEOPLEPets.com.
"She recovered gradually," he says. "But was back to feeding and behaving normally within 10 days of the op." See more amazing animals on PEOPLE Pets:Zoo Vets Help Blind Gorilla Josephine to See AgainDIY Power Tool Saves Tiny Tortoise's Life