A panda at the San Diego Zoo has undergone a dental procedure. Popular panda Bai Yun was taken to the Jennings Center for Zoological Medicine at the zoo to have a chip which keepers had noticed in one of her lower canines repaired.
Veterinarians anaesthetised the panda and then took x-rays of her and then repaired the tooth. Vets used dental composite fill so they could repair the teeth. This was then cured with a light sealing the tooth. The vet team then proceeded to smooth and clean the teeth before taking some images of the panda’s teeth.
The San Diego Zoo’s associate director of veterinary services, Meg Sutherland Smith said, “The good news is the pulp canal hadn’t been compromised, but it’s very close to breaking into the pulp canal.”
For Bai Yun her teeth are very important as they chew and break apart the bamboo which pandas spend 12 hours of their day eating. Losing their teeth is not an option as they use bamboo as their primary source of nutrition. Bai Yun is now 23 years old and like all pandas her teeth are getting worn and damaged.
Sutherland said that the team worked to stop this from happening, “What we attempted to do was a restorative procedure to cover up the part of the tooth that was chipped to, hopefully, prevent any further chipping or deterioration.”
San Diego Zoo holds pandas as part of a research loan from the People’s Republic of China. They undertake studies on behaviour, ecology, genetics and conservation work with the wild pandas of Foping Nature reserve along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
With the last 1,600 giant pandas left on the planet coming under threat from habitat loss the zoo and Chinese experts work on these science programs to ensure the ongoing survival of pandas.
Photo credit: Ken Bohn/ San Diego Zoo