A TOP draw at a Highland wildlife park faced a trip to the dentist yesterday.
And if the thought of a bear with a sore head is scary, imagine the prospect of dealing with one with a troublesome tooth...
A large team of experts was required to deal with the problem faced by Walker, one of the polar bear males at the Highland Wildlife Park.
A total of 23 people oversaw the procedure, including a number of vets, an x-ray crew, Highland Wildlife Park staff, a photographer and a small film crew.
Walker is no stranger to the dentist as this is the third procedure since his arrival at the Park in 2010.
When he arrived at Highland Wildlife Park, Walker already had a troublesome tooth, but a veterinary and dental team was able to remove it in a surgery in 2011.
His second dental operation was merely a follow-up from the first one as he developed an infection post op.
Bears, just like humans and other animals, are prone to dental problems.
Una Richardson, Head Keeper for Carnivores at Highland Wildlife Park said: “It is a testament to his veterinary and animal keeping team that his problems have been spotted in the course of his animal training sessions and by observation of subtle changes in his behaviour.”
The polar bears have been trained by the keepers to allow them to carry out regular health and weight checks.
Walker currently weighs a trim 522 kg (82 stone). If he had been in the wild, his previous tooth injuries could have proved fatal, however, due to his regular health checks, the keepers at Highland Wildlife Park were able to discover the sore tooth immediately and arrange for it to be fixed as soon as possible.
Walker is doing well, his tooth was only chipped and we will review the situation again in six months’ time.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Walker was born on 7 December 2008 and arrived at the Park in 2010 from Rhenen Zoo in the Netherlands. Arktos was born on St Andrew’s Day in 2007 at Vienna Zoo, Austria, and joined Walker at the Park in April 2012
- Walker and Arktos live in a custom built enclosure that is considered one of the world’s largest and best polar bear enclosures at almost six acres in size. Due to the natural landscape, it features many forms of enrichment for the bears
- Polar bears are the largest living land carnivore and can reach up to 3.4m (11ft) tall when standing on their hind legs
- More information on the risks polar bears face due to climate change can be found at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22823/0