Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

New polar bear gets dental work on broken teeth

  • Print

Even polar bears need to care for their teeth, and with a little help from the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, one cub’s chompers were fixed today.

Eleven-month-old Aurora arrived at the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (IPBCC) in October after she was found alone near Churchill’s airport. Two of Aurora’s teeth were broken when she arrived in Winnipeg.

Aurora was in surgery this morning to have her teeth repaired. She underwent a full diagnostic exam and a successful four-and-a half hour procedure during which vets removed two baby teeth and one broken and infected adult tooth.

Dr. Chris Enright, head of veterinary services at Assiniboine Park Zoo, said broken teeth aren’t common for bears in captivity but when bears they are in the wild -- as Aurora was -- that changes.

"In the wild the bears grab on to seals and walrus that are struggling, and sometimes chewing on frozen food can result in broken teeth," Enright said.

Broken or infected teeth can cause bears a lot of pain and discomfort and sometimes result in death if they aren’t taken care of in a timely manner.

During the procedure, vets were unsure whether the damaged teeth were baby teeth. This can make a difference in the extraction process and also affect the way adult teeth come in later.

"The best-case scenario is that they’re baby teeth, but we’ll see how it goes," Enright said.

The procedure was led by Dr. Colleen O’Morrow, a veterinary dental-surgery specialist, who has performed root canals and dental extractions on animals before.

"It’s the same procedure as a root canal in a dog or a person," said Enright. "But we have the added complication where, unlike people, who with a little bit of freezing will tolerate that sort of thing, a polar bear, though she’s only a 110 pounds and change, she’s got the attitude of a much bigger bear," Enright laughed.

Officials at Assiniboine Park Zoo said the procedure went well and Aurora is now comfortable and recovering at the IPBCC. She will have a follow up exam with Dr. O’Morrow in a month.

History

Updated on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 12:55 PM CST: adds video

1:06 PM: replaces photo

3:20 PM: Adds more details.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

The Creation of Wicked

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local- (Standup Photo). Watcher in the woods. A young deer peers from the forest while eating leaves by Cricket Drive in Assiniboine Park. A group of eight deer were seen in the park. 060508.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new Blue Bombers uniforms?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google