Paignton Zoo’s 11-year-old tiger Fabi is over 2 metres long and weighs over 100 kilograms. He has 30 teeth, including four very long canines. They are used for biting, tearing and eating meat. The tip of a tooth can get damaged fighting, playing or chewing on hard objects such as bones.
Veterinary dentist Matthew Oxford works at a number of clinics in London and across the south coast. He's one of only a handful of veterinary dentists in the country and carried out the surgery.
Vet Jo Reynard administered the anesthetic she said: “Life in the Paignton Zoo veterinary department is always interesting, but a bilateral tiger root canal treatment is a challenging procedure. The fact it went so incredibly smoothly reflects the great team spirit among vets, keepers, curatorial staff and outside experts.”
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Curator of Mammals Nic Dunn said: “Fabi is getting on now and it is not uncommon to see signs of wear and tear in an older cat. For tigers, the teeth and claws are very important pieces of equipment and so we need to make sure they are well looked after. Whilst Matthew was performing the dental work it also gave us the chance to give Fabi a full health check and we were pleased to see that he was in great health. We even wrapped his paws in bubble wrap and cut off sleeves from a zoo keeper’s old jumper to make sure he didn’t lose heat through his extremities during the long procedure!”