In pictures – chimpanzee undergoes tooth extraction at zoo

In photos – chimpanzee undergoes tooth extraction at zoo
Credit: Dudley Zoo

A primate underwent a two-hour operation on a makeshift operating theatre to get her teeth removed.

Barbie, a chimpanzee at Dudley Zoo, West Midlands, kicked off her 2022 with a dental operation after the primate team spotted signs of decay.

The 43-year-old chimp was suffering from inflamed gums and, after some consultation, was referred for an operation.

Zoo curator, Richard Brown said: ‘Keepers had spotted Barbie’s gum around two top teeth was getting red and inflamed.

‘It had been observed a number of times by the vet team and photos were sent to the dentist for them to be remotely assessed. The decision was made to remove them as just like humans, teeth begin decaying in ageing primates.’

Credit: Dudley Zoo


Reduce the stress

The team set up a makeshift operating theatre which, alongside the latest equipment, a Manchester-based veterinary dentist used to carry out the procedure.

After an X-ray confirmed which teeth to target, the team got to work.

This was the first time a dental procedure had been carried out on a chimpanzee at Dudley Zoo.

Despite the actual operation taking two hours, the preparation for the big moment took months. The zoo team had to find ways to reduce the risk of stress surrounding sedation with a general anaesthetic.

Grape treats and raisins were used to introduce the primate to the new method. But section leader, Jodie Dryden said it was the pear treats that saved the day.

Credit: Dudley Zoo
Credit: Dudley Zoo

Reward training

‘Our chimps are trained to present their shoulders for injections,’ she said.

‘But as a thigh is a better place to inject, we wanted to introduce the girls to the new method and they all picked it up within a week, thanks to reward training with a few raisin and grape treats.

‘We also needed to separate Barbie off from the rest of the group, as that’s what we’d need to do on the day and we worked with her in getting her into a den by herself, which again she quickly picked up thanks to the encouragement of her favourite pear treat.’

After the successful procedure, Barbie rested until the anaesthetic wore off.

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