Six year old female lioness, Makeba recently had dental work to extract her upper left canine or maxillary canine.
Makeba came to Perth Zoo from NSW with a questionable canine. Our animal care team have been keeping a watch on it, but we were concerned it had deteriorated and there may be some dental infection which required attention.
Often predators like African Lions give you very little in the way of clinical signs, so it is not always easy to tell if a lion has toothache. Makeba’s Zoo keepers could tell she was a bit grumpy, but we couldn’t know the extent of the dental issue until we anaesthetised her and conducted an assessment with a specialist veterinary dentist.
Upon a thorough dental check, it was decided that the canine was irreparable and the best welfare outcome would be to remove the tooth. A lion’s maxillary canine can reach up to 10 centimetres in length. They are used to rip skin and tear away meat – so it certainly took some skill and effort from the veterinary team.
However, the procedure was a roaring success (pun intended 😊 ). For the next little while, Makeba will be enjoying a soft food diet, dining on favourites including chicken and turkey.
Many lions in the wild die of infection caused by exactly this sort of thing, broken teeth, or fights over food with other lions or predators. Makeba is certainly the luckier lion living in the sanctuary of the zoo with world class veterinary and zookeeper care ensuring she is fit and healthy.
Makeba has bounced back from her tooth extraction and is now back on the prowl in her African Savannah home alongside her sister Uzuri.