Eastcott vets perform surgery on lion with a fractured tooth
Peter Southerden, the director and founder of Eastcott Vets, with vet Andrew Perry carrying out the dental work on Shiva the lion
Eastcott Vets’ director Peter Southerden and colleague Andrew Perry have performed surgery on hundreds of cats.
But they were required to put their skills to use on a bigger cat than usual last week.
When the pair received a call for help from Bristol Zoo, they were only too happy to come to the rescue.
The patient was Shiva, an eight-year-old Asiatic lion who lives at Bristol Zoo. Shiva had managed to fracture a lower canine tooth after the distress of losing her mate, Kamal, 10 days earlier, not long after the birth of her two cubs.
As with humans, a broken or fractured tooth can cause severe pain. In the longer term it can result in the development of an abscess which can be debilitating and have far-reaching effects.
Peter, a specialist in dentistry and oral surgery, said: “The tooth fracture would have caused Shiva considerable pain and, although Shiva is a little bigger than our regular patients weighing in at 22 stone, her needs are no different, and so we were very pleased to be able to help.”
Given that the root of Shiva’s tooth was more than three inches long and makes up half the volume of the front of the jaw, removal of the tooth would have been very traumatic and would run the risk of breaking the jaw during normal use after surgery.
Peter and Andrew are two of a small group of veterinary surgeons in the UK who perform advanced treatments, such as root canal therapy, regularly.
Once Shiva was safely asleep, they were able to carry out a root filling and, although the tooth will always be shortened, it will be pain-free, functional, and last the whole of her life.
Peter, who carried out a similar operation on Kamal last year, said: “It was very rewarding to be able to use these skills to treat such a magnificent patient.”
Andrew, who has a primary interest in veterinary dentistry and maxillo-facial surgery, said: “It’s always an honour to work with these magnificent creatures.
“But we’re very glad to have such skilled anaesthetists to work with.
“We expect Shiva to make a rapid recovery.”