VIDEO: What Have Chew Been Eating? Brave Zookeeper Checks Out Hippos Teeth
A zookeeper showed his bravery here as he checks the teeth of a resident hippo and plucks out muck that could lead to dental issues.
The footage was shared on social media by ‘Zookeeper Guy’, better known as Brian from Copenhagen Zoo in the Danish capital Copenhagen, with the message: “Quick mouth check on Komtu to make sure everything looks okay, it usually is.
“In this one, you can very clearly see his ‘two kinds of teeth’ configuration. Up front he has the big sharp canines in the lower jaw, those match the flat grinding tooth in the upper jaw, it’s that small flat one that looks like it’s broken, it’s not.
“That’s the tooth that sharpens those big bottom ones, and they get real sharp, like a razor.
“In the middle we have the incisors, those are the big round ones, looking like two pieces of bamboo sticking out of his mouth.
“Some hippos mainly males will have these growing out of their mouths like tusks on elephant. They’ll usually keep them trimmed down, by rubbing and grinding against the ground while eating.
“Komtu has exceptionally large incisors, and once every 5-6 years we help out by trimming them back a bit, for his comfort.
“Front teeth, all of them up front, are pure ivory, no nerves in them, they can break off right down by the jaw, and they just start growing back out.
“They are mainly used for display and to scare off competitors, or for threats, and if that’s not working, the fighting begins. Hippos do not back off.
“Lastly way in the back, we have the actual molars, those are ‘real’ teeth, big grinding, chewing teeth, used to cut and grind grass which is their primary food source, lots of grass.”
Brian, 47, who has worked as a zookeeper at Copenhagen Zoo for 23 years, said he had been carrying out daily tasks with the hippos for the last 13 years.
Brian told Zenger News: “We have three hippos, two females and a male. In the footage, I am not brushing their teeth, but checking their mouths for bruises or anything out of the ordinary. I also check their teeth regularly to make sure they are not broken or damaged, which can cause pain and trouble eating.
“Being close to hippos can of course be dangerous, but what you’re seeing here is a result of working with these beautiful animals for many years.
He added: “We use only positive reinforcement when working with them, meaning they participate freely and can leave any time they feel like it.”
Brian told Zenger News: “As a treat, we usually give the hippos apples as they are easy to get all year round.”