Dental Examination of Kelly

18 March 2015

Kelly had her teeth checked

On Tuesday 17th of March, Kelly, our fifteen year old Giraffe, was sedated for a dental examination and health check. Head keeper, Ailsa, suspected she was having problems digesting and chewing her food, so an inspection of her mouth was required. Due to their unusual physiology, sedation is particularly dangerous for giraffes. When giraffes are anesthetised they often collapse from a standing position, falling down quickly and risk breaking their necks. The complex circulatory and respiratory system make the giraffe one of the most complicated animals to anesthetise. Our vet, Ian Rodger explains:

"We don't undertake general anaesthesia in a giraffe lightly but this is a problem that's been working away for a wee while now and we felt we had no choice but to explore the mouth, and hopefully based on that and based on the X-ray, we can make some decisions as to how to put a treatment programme in place."

He continues and explains his findings.

"Food was becoming trapped in the gap between the teeth. The right name for that is a diastema and there were two on the lower left jaw, and I picked and cleaned and flushed them out and explored the depth of them." " I actually found a wee bit less than what I was expecting but, that said, there could still be significant sources of pain and discomfort. Although the changes don't look enormous to my eye - I've certainly seen worse changes than that in horses' mouths many times - gum inflammation or gum recession is a noted source of pain in an animal's mouth, so that may well be the primary source of the problem".

Ailsa continued to monitored Kelly throughout the day after her op, before slowly mixing her back with the other giraffes.