The team working to fix Darling Downs Zoo resident Lion, Lockie's tooth in a complex operation.
The team working to fix Darling Downs Zoo resident Lion, Lockie's tooth in a complex operation. Contributed

Special dental work gives sorry lion cause to smile again

IF A person were to break a tooth they would make an appointment with the dentist and have it fixed, but in the case of Lockie the Lion it was not as simple as that.

"Lockie, an 11-year-old male lion at the Darling Downs Zoo, recently started to look very miserable," Darling Downs Zoo director Steve Robinson said.

Warwick veterinary surgeon Ross Newman was the called in to check on him.

"I saw Lockie three weeks ago and found he had a bottom canine tooth broken off," he said.

"It is an important tooth in carnivores as it is the one they rip with and we didn't want to just pull it out.

"So we decided to do root canal."

Dr Newman was in charge of the anesthetics during the operation.

"We had to get two specialist animal dentists, Dr Gary Wilson and Dr Aaron Forsayeth, from Brisbane," Dr Newman said.

Mr Robinson said he was impressed with how the operation went.

"It was a big job," he said.

"The undertaking eventually involved three vets, five students and nurses and four zoo keepers."

If Lockie had been in the wild, Dr Newman, said he would have died.

"In the wild it would have abscesses when bacteria got into the gum, and it would have been the end of the animal," he said.

"It would not last that long without teeth.

"It was an expensive procedure.

"The Darling Downs Zoo need a pat on the back for looking after the animals so well," Dr Newman said.

Mr Robinson said Lockie recovered quickly from his ordeal and was now a much happier lion.

He is eagerly awaiting his reward from the tooth fairy.

Lockie the Lion was in a lot of pain before the life saving tooth operation.
Lockie the Lion was in a lot of pain before the life saving tooth operation. Contributed

Visit the zoo

  • The Darling Downs Zoo is located at Pilton on the corner of Gatton-Clifton and Baines Rd.
  • The zoo has stock including native animals as well as animals from Africa, South America and East Asia.
  • It is open six days a week (closed Tuesdays). For more information phone 4696 4107.


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