Whipsnade Zoo: Large team unites for rhino’s dental check-up
Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire recently conducted a dental check-up on Mikumi, a 2,100kg (4,629lb) southern white rhino, with the collaboration of vets, animal dental experts, and keepers. The rhino was examined while under anaesthetic in her den, and four zookeepers assisted in keeping her jaw open for the procedure.
The dental examination revealed that Mikumi’s teeth were generally in “excellent condition,” with only a small fracture in one molar that was successfully treated. The check-up was particularly important as Mikumi is considered “of advancing age,” and monitoring the condition of her teeth helps prevent future health issues.
Dr Taina Strike, the senior veterinary officer at Whipsnade Zoo, emphasized the significance of caring for older rhinos’ teeth, as they, like humans, can experience wear and tear and decay over time. The continuous growth of a southern white rhino’s teeth throughout their lifetime is crucial for their ability to crush and grind the grass and vegetation they consume.
The check-up was performed by equine dentist Dr Chris Pearce, who assessed Mikumi’s teeth after she was anaesthetized in her indoor den. Over 20 zookeepers aided in repositioning her on a bed of straw and keeping her heavy jaw open during the procedure.
Dr Strike praised the teamwork of the zookeepers and veterinary team, along with the contribution of nutritionists who ensure the rhinos have a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Mikumi’s teeth were determined to be in excellent condition, although a small fracture was discovered in one molar, which was promptly treated.
Mikumi may require another dental check-up in approximately 18 months as her teeth continue to grow. Dr Strike also mentioned that they will evaluate other aging white rhinos at the zoo and consider providing them with dental check-ups as well.
The dental check-up at Whipsnade Zoo highlights the importance of dental care for rhinos, as the condition of their teeth directly impacts their ability to eat and maintain overall health. The collaboration between the zoo’s veterinary team, dental experts, and keepers ensures the well-being of the rhinos and serves as an example of the comprehensive care provided to animals in captivity.