28 Jul

Mo the lioness undergoes three-hour dental operation in Suffolk

Mo, an 18-year-old lioness, has undergone a three-hour dental operation in Suffolk. 

The lioness, who lives at Africa Alive in Kessingland, Suffolk, needed root canal therapy to save two of her canine teeth. 

Staff at the zoo said that it isn’t always easy to spot dental problems in lions but keepers who visit Mo daily had noticed a couple of changes, which suggested that further investigation would be beneficial. One of the canines was damaged and keepers suspected that another tooth may also be showing signs of wear.

Haylee Parker, from the animal management team at the zoo, said that animals tend to mask pain very effectively but the keepers spend so much time with them that they can spot subtle differences in their behaviour. 

Vets decided to intervene and carry out root canal treatment on the affected teeth. On the day of the procedure, Mo was anaesthetised and her condition monitored carefully by the zoo vets and specialist dental vet, Gerhard Putter and his veterinary nurse.

Mr Putter said that the procedure, though long, had gone well. Treatment provides an alternative to extracting the teeth, which is much more invasive than root canal therapy. The roots of the teeth are much longer in lions than humans and Mr Putter remarked that one of the tooth roots measured 2.3 inches. 

After the operation, Mo was left under observation and she started to come around from the anaesthetic a couple of hours later. Keepers and vets have been keeping a close eye on her but she has recovered well.

She spent the night in her own enclosure after the procedure before joining the rest of the pride the next day. Mo is one of six lions at the Africa Alive zoo and she is one of the most popular residents among visitors.