The king of Perth Zoo’s jungle, ‘Mandela’ the African Lion will get a full dental check up and assistance with some broken teeth at Perth Zoo today.

During a previous veterinary examination, it was discovered that Mandela had a dental infection and some broken teeth which needed further attention.

Perth Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian, Simone Vitali, said: “Lions have specialised teeth to suit their diet and lifestyle. They don’t chew their food like we do but use their teeth like shears to cut and slice flesh into small enough pieces to swallow.”

“The power and size of their teeth makes for a very interesting dental patient and obviously why we cannot do a full dental exam when Mandela is awake.”

“Although Mandela is not showing any signs of outward pain, we have called in Veterinary Dentist, Dr. Lian Yeap to take a closer look at the infection and broken teeth and safeguard against any further dental problems.”

Dr. Yeap is one of a small number of specialist veterinary dentists in Australia. She has a long-standing relationship with Perth Zoo having treated many of the Zoo’s other wild animals. Many of Dr Yeap’s dental instruments are specially designed and adapted to enable her to treat these exotic animal patients.

Following his procedure, Mandela will recover in his night quarters under the watchful eyes of his dedicated keepers before joining his brother ‘Nelson’ and lioness, ‘Shinyanga’ back on the prowl within his African Savannah themed home.

Mandela is a 13 year old male African Lion who was born in the UK. The life expectancy for African Lions in the wild is 10 to 14 years, however in zoos they can live to be 30 years old due to the exemplary diet and veterinary care. Mandela tips the scales at 185 kilograms.

African Lions are a vulnerable species with fewer than 34,000 individuals remaining in all of Africa. Three main threats currently facing lions include habitat loss, loss of their prey base to the bush meat trade, and human-lion conflict. They are also still hunted and prized for their coats and other body parts.