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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Nobody likes a trip to the dentist… least of all a 3,000lb hippo

By Daniel Miller

And how often do you brush? Tomy the hippopotamus endures a spot of dental work

This massive hippopotamus needed an urgent trip to the dentist after a problem with his teeth made him very hungry hungry indeed.

Tomy, 39, a favourite with his keepers at the Bayamon Zoo in Puerto Rico, was suffering from a painful malocclusion which prevented his lower teeth from wearing properly.

His condition had got so bad it was putting him off his food and his weight had plummeted to just 3000lbs, which for a hippo is dangerously low.

This might hurt a bit: Brave Tomy stays remarkably calm as the team of vets use a power saw to cut through his lower tooth

So chief veterinarian at North Carolina Zoo, Dr. Mike Loomis, went over to give Tomy a badly needed dental procedure.

Mike, along with veterinarians and keepers at the Parque de las Sciencias museums in Bayamon, have been treating the normally happy hippo for two decades and has made numerous trips to trim the animal's overgrown gnashers.

Unfortunately giving a hippo an anaesthetic is no mean feat due to their size, fat layer and lack of accessible veins.

So Mike and the team developed a technique to partially anesthetise Tomy and trim his teeth while he is in a sitting position.

After giving him just enough anaesthetic to be comfortable but not enough to knock him out completely they used a reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade to quickly trim his lower teeth.

A well-deserved bath: With the dental work done Tomy enjoys a quick wallow in front of the assembled media

Mike said: 'The first time I performed the dental procedure on Tomy, his teeth had grown through his upper lip, making it very painful for him to chew.

'He was very thin, and I was concerned about the risk of anaesthesia. Since then, the zoo has done a great job of making sure his teeth are trimmed before they get to that point.'

Gargle and rinse: The 3,000lb beast sits like an obedient dog as he gratefully receives a refreshing hose down following his grueling ordeal



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