When an 18-stone tiger needed root canal treatment it required more than a simple visit from a vet dentist – as staff at Blackpool Zoo discovered.

Dual-qualified vet and human dental surgeon Alex Smithson worked with a 10-strong team to treat and repair an Amur tiger’s damaged teeth.

When Amur tiger Alyona needed an operation to treat and repair four damaged canine teeth, a specialist team of 10 was gathered, including dual-qualified veterinary surgeon and human dental surgeon Alex Smithson, two experienced zoo vets, a resident from University of Liverpool Animal teaching hospital Leahurst, three zoo keepers and a trio of VNs.

Root canal treatment for two of Alyona’s canine teeth was carried out in September 2015. The second stage, completing treatment of all four teeth, was carried out in June this year.

Functioning team

Dr Smithson said: “With a procedure like this, there’s a lot of work involved, with days of organisation, planning, equipment preparation and then operating in testing conditions, so it is essential the team functions together well.

“Everyone was fantastic to work with; enthusiastic, friendly and professional. The net result is a synergistic combination of diverse skills and knowledge, committed to prioritising Alyona’s health and welfare.”

Zoo vets Karen Archer and Andrew Moore worked alongside Dr Smithson, Stefania Scarabelli from Leahurst and VNs Karen Kenning, Claire Bloor and Rachel Wager. Blackpool Zoo’s head keeper Luke Minns and section head of large mammals Adam Kenyon were helped by mammal keeper Lauren Ogden.


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