Belfast Zoo’s Asian elephant, Tina, is currently recovering after receiving dental surgery.
It was discovered that her tush (male Asian elephants have tusks but females have tushes, which are short second incisors) was broken and was sticking into her gum, causing infection.
Elephants have a set of 24 molars that are replaced six times in their lifespan. At the age of 46, Tina is currently on her sixth set of teeth, so it was vital that she received dental care.
London dentist, Peter Kertesz, is usually based in his Bond Street dental practice but regularly ‘walks on the wild side’ and has performed dental surgery on a range of exotic species around the world, including whales, giant pandas and elephants.
Peter said: ‘We had to file off the sharp areas of Tina’s tooth. Her surgery went very smoothly, thanks to the work of everyone involved and she is well on her way to recovery. I feel extremely privileged that I can make a difference to the health and life of rare and endangered animals, such as Tina.’
Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said: ‘A number of years ago, we made the decision to become a sanctuary for elderly, non-breeding female elephants and this decision was not taken lightly. Caring for older elephants brings new challenges such as health management and the knowledge of our keepers and the people we work with – such as Peter Kertesz – is imperative when caring for our elephants in their later years.’