28 Apr

Neo the brown bear receives a visit from the dentist

A four-year-old brown bear from Bristol has received a visit from the dentist. 

Neo, who lives at the Wild Place Project, needed treatment after coming out of hibernation. Keepers at the park noticed that Neo had dental problems shortly after he and his fellow European brown bears came out of their light winter hibernation, known as torpor. Vets found that Neo had an abscess on one of his canine teeth. As with humans, it’s important to treat abscesses quickly to prevent symptoms from getting worse. 

Veterinary dentist, Martin Brice, was called in to carry out the procedure, which involved undertaking root canal treatment to manage the infection. Martin is used to treating much smaller animals, but said that he was always thrilled to help out at zoos and wildlife parks providing dental care for larger species. 

Neo was under general anaesthetic for around three hours while Martin and a team of vets and keepers from the Wild Place Project treated the abscess and gave him a full check-up. As Neo is only young, he may need further treatment in the coming months as his teeth have not fully developed and matured yet. He is recovering well after the procedure and is enjoying spending time with the other bears, Albie, Gemini and Nilas. 

Head of veterinary services and conservation medicine, Michelle Barrows, said that all the animals at the park undergo regular visual checks but Neo’s dental procedure enabled the team to give him a thorough check-over after torpor. He has lost a bit of weight during hibernation, which is expected, but he is in very good shape and has responded well to his dental treatment. 

Wild Eurasian bears can be found in Russia and Northern Europe. They became extinct in the UK due to hunting in 1,000 AD.