Elephant Calf Undergoes Dental Procedure at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Escondido, California - Emanti, a male elephant calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, underwent a dental procedure this morning as part of the follow up to a recent tusk injury. The two-and-a-half year old elephant had broken his tusk eight weeks ago.

On January 10, veterinarians performed a pulpotomy (similar to a root canal) on Emanti's tusk and surgically removed inflamed pulp tissue that had become infected. The infected area was treated by cleaning the tissue with antibiotics and disinfectant. A plug was placed in the root canal opening to avoid further exposure to the tissue.

Today's procedure was performed by Jim Oosterhuis, DVM, principal veterinarian for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Oosterhuis is a recognized expert on immobilization techniques and dental care in elephants.

During the hour-long procedure, Oosterhuis found the infection still existed. To avoid further health risks, it was decided removal of the tusk will be necessary. Until then, the calf will remain on a fruit-flavored antibiotic, which he seems to enjoy, according to keepers.

Dental check-ups are a regular part of elephant care at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Over the past two years, Park veterinary staff has performed more than 10 dental care procedures. Keepers also regularly care for the elephants' feet, ears and trunks.

The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The Conservancy makes possible the wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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