Log In

Reset Password

Lemur visits dentist for tooth troubles

Surprise patient: Alice, 29, is recovering well after high-risk surgery to remove one of her teeth, with Dr Len Wedlich

Saturday was not a typical day at the office for dentist Len Wedlich.

Instead of the traditional men, women and children nursing sore teeth he was faced with a very different patient of the four-legged variety.

Dr Wedlich from Island Dental was enlisted by the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo to help treat a lemur suffering from a nasty root abscess.

He voluntarily joined forces with Ian Walker, BAMZ curator, to remove two lower-level teeth under anaesthetic and help Alice the lemur get her appetite back.

“I did a little bit of research before the surgery on the structure of a lemur’s jaws,” Dr Wedlich said.

“There are the same landmarks as a human’s jaws, so it was not a particularly difficult procedure.

“It only took about seven minutes to remove the tooth that was causing the problems, but we were very much aware of the animal’s age and her heart condition and tried to keep the amount of anaesthetic to a minimum.

“It’s the first time I have operated on a lemur so it was an unusual job, however in the past I did some dental work on a friend’s doberman pincher.”

Staff had noticed that Alice, one of three lemurs in the Madagascar exhibit, was off her food and quieter than usual last Wednesday.

As a result Dr Walker undertook a full physical examination that revealed the cause of the trouble.

He then contacted his dentist, Dr Wedlich, who is also the husband of the zoo’s animal registrar, Barbara Outerbridge’s, to see if he could help.

At 9am on Saturday the two doctors begun the tricky job of removing the animal’s troublesome tooth.

“It was a high risk surgery given the fact that Alice is 29 years old and she has a heart murmur,” said Dr Walker.

“In the wild lemurs live between 19 and 21 years old so Alice is pretty mature in terms of years.

“However we felt this was the best option for her welfare given that she was not eating and was obviously in pain.

“The surgery itself went very well and we had to remove two teeth just to be sure that we had dealt with the problem.

“From our point of view it is brilliant to call on people with this level of expertise and equipment to perform such procedures voluntarily.

“Alice is doing well and we hope to be able to let her back into the enclosure this week.”