Zoos SA

Double Dental Day at Zoos SA

Here’s some news to sink your teeth into –a trio of primates across Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park have had a special trip to the dentist.

Adelaide Zoo’s Mandrill, Tabah, was first in line to see veterinary dentist Dr David Clarke at the zoo’s Animal Health Centre. Dr David flew in from Victoria to assist local veterinary dentist Dr Kirsten Hailstone in the assessment of these primate patients under general anaesthetic.

Veterinarian Ian Smith oversaw the procedures and said the team completed an incisor extraction on Tabah and assessed the progress of previous root canals.

“Where possible we undertake root canals because keeping a tooth intact has less impact on surrounding teeth and the bones of the jaw than removing a tooth.

“However Tabah had a broken tooth so in this case an extraction was the best treatment to make him more comfortable,” said Ian.

Tabah is the dominant male Mandrill at the zoo and his impressive canines measure around five centimetres long. For comparison, a lion’s canines measure around seven centimetres. Mandrill’s bare these huge canines as a way of greeting each other.

Next to see the dentist was female Mandrill, Niari, who had further root canal work.

“These procedures were follow up to dental work that Niari and Tabah had in February, and we’re really happy with the progress.

“Niari and Tabah are at the stage in life where it’s common to need some dental maintenance and it’s great to see they’ve responded well to treatment, getting straight back into eating normally.”

The toothy treatment continued at Monarto Safari Park, where male Chimpanzee Sandali had root canals. Assistant Curator of Natives and Primates, Tom Hurley, said a team of 20 people were involved in the procedure.

“Chimpanzees are very tough animals so even though Sandali may not show it, we all know how uncomfortable it can be to have a tooth issue and he’ll be feeling much more comfortable now.

“It’s so important we maintain the dental hygiene of animals in our care to keep them happy and healthy and it’s a huge help to have the expertise of the dental team,” said Tom.

Animals in Zoos SA’s care may only undergo general anaesthetic once every few years, so the vet team also took the opportunity to complete a full health check on the chimp and Mandrills. This involved assessing ears, eyes, skin and taking blood.

“For Sandali’s procedure we also conducted a detailed heart ultrasound and multiple x-rays and this helps us establish a baseline, so in the future we can compare changes and identify any issues,” he said.

All three primates recovered well from their procedures and have settled back into their habitats.

Chimpanzees and Mandrills have 32 teeth, just like humans. Sadly, both species are listed as endangered to extinction on the IUCN Red List. Each time the public visit their primate pals at Adelaide Zoo or Monarto Safari Park, they’re supporting Zoos SA’s vital conservation work to save these species for future generations.

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging. We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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