The North Carolina Zoo has on its staff some of the best and most experienced exotic animal veterinarians in the country. But sometimes even the best zoo doctors need assistance from other experts. That was the case recently when specialists from the North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine were called upon to help repair a broken tusk for a young female Elephant Zoo chief veterinarian, Dr. Mike Loomis, tells us more about the case.
The elephant that broke the tusk is Batir. She is a young elephant about five years old. We think she wedged her trunk between two bars and broke it off. If we hadn't treated it there could have potentially become infected and she may have actually lost the tusk from the infection.
First thing we had to do was anesthetize the elephant. Once she went down, we had to roll her over, so that the broke tusk was on the up side of the elephant, so we could have access to it. We put a breathing tube in her trachea so that we could help her breathe. The tusk was broken off at an angle. Part of the tusk had to be cut off to keep it from being so sharp and also to decrease the possibility that she would get the edge of the tusk caught in another situation and broken off again.
We did this procedure so that we had a very good likelihood that the tusk would continue to grow through the life of the elephant. Then we used an acrylic to fill the rest of the canal and the acrylic dries really hard.
Since the procedure, the tusk is growing very well. There is no infection and it was a very successful procedure for us. With experts from NC State on call, along with our top notch staff veterinarians, the zoo can be certain that our animals will always get the very best medical care available.
If you'd like to learn more about the zoo's veterinary division, check out their web site a www.nczoo.org. The North Carolina Zoo located near Asheboro. It is open year round. For information, call 800-488-0444.