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Monarto carnivores’ chomper check-up

It was the molar the merrier at the Monarto Safari Park last week!

The biggest teeth in the park, an African Lion and Spotted Hyena, paid a visit to Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialist, David Clarke, from Dental Care for Pets at the Animal Health Centre.

Thanks to support from North Adelaide Dental, David was flown in from Victoria to see the carnivores and ensure their teeth were in tip-top shape.

Male African Lion, 14-year-old Inkosi, was first in line after keepers observed he had a fractured right canine tooth. After X-rays were taken, Inkosi had a root canal and filling.

“Overall Inkosi has good dental hygiene for his age, apart from the broken teeth. However, this is a common occurrence and most of my work in lions and large cats is root canal procedures,” he said.

“The root canal was 105mm long and we flushed out dentine and pulp before a filling was placed in the canal to finish the procedure.”

Monarto Safari Park Curator Beth Pohl said due to COVID restrictions, the dental day had been a long time in the making.

“It was fantastic that we could finally have specialist, David, here to see our carnivores and make sure their teeth are in good shape. With border closures and COVID restrictions, we’ve been waiting a while for the dental day to happen!” he said.

“Dental hygiene is incredibly important in the overall health and wellbeing of animals. If there are any problems, just like humans, it can be uncomfortable for them so we always monitor their teeth to ensure they are happy and healthy.”

African Lions can eat up to 40kg of meat in a single meal, and their incisors, the smallest teeth at the front of the mouth, are used for gripping and tearing their meal while their canine teeth can reach up to 7cm in length!

A lion’s tongue is also very important at dinner time with sharp-pointed rasps, called papillae, which are used to scrape meat off the bones.

Inkosi was born in 2007 and was part of Monarto Safari Park’s first-ever litter of cubs.

Next up to see David was eight-year-old female Spotted Hyena, Thandiwe. Keepers also noticed she had a fractured upper-right canine tooth and so booked her in for a check-up.

Thandiwe received a root canal, had a molar capped, four fractured teeth removed and was placed on an all-meat diet for ten days.

Spotted Hyenas have around 34 teeth, which includes conical premolars, specialised for breaking and crushing bones. This incredible species has the ability to digest hard materials such as horns, bones, hooves, and even the teeth of other animals.

Thandiwe was born in 2014 at Monarto Safari Park and gave birth to adorable twin cubs, Jaali and Kanzi in 2017.

For more information or to book your tickets to Monarto Safari Park, please visit monartosafari.com.au.

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About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction.

Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging.

We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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