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A Group Of Zookeepers And Vets Open Up A Rhino’s Jaw For Dental Work

The 31-year-old rhino's teeth said to be in excellent condition, but she may need another check-up in 18 months.

A team of more than two dozen zookeepers and vets helped give a two-ton rhino her dental check-up in the United Kingdom on May 16.

The squad helped safely place the huge southern white rhino, named Mikumi, on a bed of straw while she was knocked out.

Vets perform a dental check up on the 31-year-old white rhino. It takes four zoo workers to do the required dental work. WHIPSNADE ZOO/SWNS TALKER

It took four keepers at Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Beds, to hold the 31-year-old rhino’s giant jaw open during the dental examination.

Senior veterinary officer Dr. Taina Strike workedwith experts from all around the world to plan the three-hour dental check-up.

Mikumi walking around a field. Her teeth were found to be in excellent condition for her age. WHIPSNADE ZOO/SWNS TALKER

“As humans age they may naturally develop tooth wear and tear, as well as decay, and it’s no different for rhinos,” Dr. Strike said.

After Mikumi was anesthetized, equine dentist Dr. Chris Pearce gave the check-up.

Mikumi’s teeth were found to generally be in “excellent condition” although a small fracture in one molar needed repairing.

A southern white rhino’s teeth, which continuously grow throughout their lifetime, help them crush and grind the grass and other vegetation they eat into tiny pieces.

The zoo said it was important to check the condition of older rhinos’ teeth to prevent future health issues.

Dr. Strike added: “Mikumi is in excellent health overall, but she is of advancing age.

“It was important for us to investigate how her teeth were and prevent any future issues from arising.

“Without these large teeth remaining in tip-top condition she would struggle to eat, or poorly digested pieces of plant fibers could make their way into her digestive tract, causing health issues.”

A different angle of zoo workers and vets working on Mikumi’s dental check up. WHIPSNADE ZOO/SWNS TALKER

Mikumi may need another check-up in 18 months’ time as her teeth continue to grow, but for now, she’s been given the all-clear.

Dr. Strike praised Whipsnade’s “amazing zookeepers and the veterinary team looking after Mikumi’s health — alongside our nutritionists, who have created a well-balanced and nutritious diet for all our white rhinos.

“We will also assess some of our other white rhinos who are also starting to advance in age and look at providing them with dental check-ups too.”

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Sterling Creighton Beard

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