Bagai the Amur tiger visits the dentist

March 8, 2024

A trip to the dentist isn’t anybody’s idea of fun and when you weigh 170kgs have canines that measure 9cm long and a jaw that can deliver more than 1,000 pound force per square inch (PSI), it’s probably a little bit daunting for the dentist too!

That’s exactly the challenge an all-female team undertook recently when our male Amur Tiger Bagai broke a tooth and needed a root canal.

Carrie Arnold, Animal Team Leader, Carnivores, contacted the zoo’s in-house veterinary team after noticing the 11-year-old tiger had broken a tooth.

His age and known health conditions made anaesthetising and operating a higher risk procedure so it was critical everything went to plan.

Dr Elysé Summerfield-Smith, Zoo Veterinarian, was strategic lead for the procedure, which involved Veterinary Dentist Rachel Perry performing a root canal, removing the dental pulp, sterilising the inside of the tooth and filling it with a sealer.

The team of Zoo Registered Veterinary Nurses also monitored the anaesthetic and Bagai’s vital statistics.

Elysé said: “When we run procedures like this, everyone involved has responsibility for the lives of their colleagues as well as the life of the tiger.

“We’re all women, and all of us had an area of responsibility so being able to work together, communicate well and perform our role to the best of our ability was critical.”

Marwell is fortunate to work with European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Specialist in Veterinary Dentistry, Rachel Perry, of Perry Referrals, one of only eight Specialists in Veterinary Dentistry in the United Kingdom, as well as Referral Anaesthesia and Dental Registered Veterinary Nurse Stacey Parker.

Carrie said: “Throughout my career in zookeeping, I have seen a steady increase in female led achievements.

“Working with different talents and strengths and learning from them is such a great privilege.

“It is great to coordinate and manage such high-profile procedures alongside amazing women in the industry.”

Zoo Registered Veterinary Nurse, Georgina Constable-Dakeyne, said: “It is wonderful to work in such a close-knit team of individuals where human and animal safety and welfare are so highly valued.

“I feel privileged to be surrounded by strong, resourceful and passionate women whilst working, in what can be a highly intense situation.”

Victoria Sissons, Animal Keeper said: “This was an amazing experience to be part of and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from a team of such experienced and professional women.”

Bagai has since made a full recovery and is enjoying his food once again thanks to the care, professionalism and expertise of this fantastic all female team.