This is the astonishing moment an elephant had an infected molar removed by a veterinary dentist.
When Lucha, a female Asian elephant, went off her food and her concerned keepers checked her over they realised the root of the 33-year-old’s problems was a wobbly tooth. The tooth had moved and become infected, leaving Lucha in excruciating pain.
Vets at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire called on veterinary dental surgeon Dr Peter Kertesz, who helped the team extract the massive molar – and the whole operation was caught on camera by keepers.
Nic Masters, head vet at the Zoological Society of London, said: ‘While most people dread the idea of a visit to the dentist, for Lucha the elephant it was a relaxed experience, due to the regular training and close relationship she has with our keepers.
‘The keepers quickly noticed when Lucha was off her food, and as soon as we identified the problem tooth, we called upon expert zoo dentist Dr Peter Kertesz to help out.
‘When anaesthetizing an animal, we can’t predict what side they’ll lie down on, but thanks to training, Lucha was able to lay down on the right side, ensuring we could access her gum easily, and quickly remove the tooth to get her back on her feet as soon as possible.’
Lucha and the herd of ten Asian elephants at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
Asian elephants are classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species, and ZSL has been working in Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary in western Thailand to tackle the human-elephant conflict that threatens lives and livelihoods and protect the forest ecosystem.
Mammoth problem: When Lucha, an Asian elephant, went off her food her keepers checked her over and realised she had a wobbly tooth
Knocked out: The tooth had become infected, leaving Lucha in excruciating pain so the zoo called in dental surgeon Dr. Peter Kertesz
Team effort: Vets at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo called on veterinary dental surgeon Dr Kertesz who helped the team extract the massive molar
Root of the problem: Dr Kertesz drilled Lucha’s tooth out of her mouth after it became loose, moved and then became infected and sore
The offending object: During the successful operation the team removed the mammoth molar (pictured) which was hurting Lucha
Happy: Lucha is now back to her usual happy self following the extraction of the sore tooth. She and the herd of ten Asian elephants at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are part of the European Endangered Species Programme