Our Sun Bears and Orangutans have a daily dental routine just like yours!

If you have a pet at home, you likely know how challenging it can be to get a dog to swallow a tablet or to have a cat sit still for a needle at the vet. 

Now imagine how much more challenging that might be when you’re working with Sumatran Orangutans, Sun Bears and more!

Luckily, our animal carers are superstars when it comes to providing health care for our furry, feathery and scaly residents. 

Following recent health work-ups under general anaesthetic, vets found Sun Bear’s Bopha and Jamran’s teeth were in need of a little TLC. 


Perth Zoo Asian Carnivore Senior Keeper, Marty Boland, said: “It’s not uncommon for Sun Bears to develop a build-up of calculus on their teeth, so our bears had a good scale and polish while under anaesthetic in the Vet Hospital. 

“But it’s important we incorporate further preventative dental care into their daily routines, that way they can maintain good dental health without needing to go under anaesthetic regularly.”

Thanks to the positive reinforcement training, both bears will sit and have their chompers cleaned with an electric toothbrush. 

Once they’ve had a brush, the bears are offered some delicious strawberries as part of the positive reinforcement training. 
Over at the Orangutan habitat, Senior Primate Keeper Katie Madden conducts similar training with our great apes. 

“Medical training programs are a big part of our daily routines when working with primate species, it’s very important to have that one-on-one time to establish relationships built on trust,” Katie said. 

“We do healthcare training routinely and that involves brushing and flossing teeth, taking temperatures using ear thermometers, performing nasal swabs and conditioning to receive an injection. 

“Not only is the training mentally stimulating, but it means the orangutans become a willing participant in their own health care and through cooperative preventive health care we minimise the necessity for anaesthetic procedures.”

This training was recently put into action when 52-year-old Orangutan Puteri fainted and had an emergency procedure after-hours.

Perth Zoo is home to 1500 animals and it’s our job to give each individual personalised care so they can live a happy, healthy life. 

Our expert animal carers put a lot of time and effort into clever training programs that are both mentally enriching and can help to reduce stress when it comes to necessary healthcare. 

Thanks to this hard work, we can provide gold standard medical care without compromising welfare.