Root Canal Performed For Refuge Tigers - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/26/07-Tyler

Root Canal Performed For Refuge Tigers

         A tough day at the office for one dentist, as he has to perform dental work on several 5-hundred pound tigers at an east Texas wildlife refuge.   Three big cats needed emergency root canals, Thursday, at Tiger Creek wildlife refuge in Red Springs. And when tigers need dental work, veterinary experts are called in.

    "Well today we're taking some of our tigers that have broken off some of their canine teeth they have and we're doing root canals" said Park Director Terri Warner.  

       This is not the same as surgery on a house cat.  These cats have to be one hundred percent under sedation before they can perform dentistry. If they don't, then you've got 400 or 500 pounds of angry teeth and claws.

     "Yeah, it can be dangerous because theses cats have tremendous power" said Veterinary surgeon doctor Michael McEller.

    A 500 pound Siberian tiger named Katrina, a very unpredictable and moody tiger, needed 3 darts to put her to sleep, but even sedated tigers can be dangerous.

      "I've been bitten. The worst bite I received was a tiger that was asleep but she just had a little jaw twitch she bit down on two of my fingers and I was out of work for two months" McEller says.

  McEller works with Disney's animal kingdom. He says a tiger's dental hygiene is much like ours, except much bigger tools.

    "We do have to check them regularly for any kind of dental problems because they can develop dental problems just like we do" says Warner.

   After a few drills and some fillings, the patient is cured,  and another happy tiger will soon be on display at the refuge.

  "Brush 3 times a day" says McEller.  

     All the patients are recovering from successful root canals today.  Tiger Creek wildlife refuge is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm.

Reported By: Bob Hallmark; bhallmark@kltv.com .

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