A bear with a sore head


In a challenge for any dentist, a 241-kilogram polar bear called Walker has just had a tooth removed. Needless to say, it was under anaesthetic. It took 10 people to lift the bear to the operating table.
Walker, who lives at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, Scotland, needed dental surgery after antibiotics failed to cure an infection which had left him with a swollen jaw. Walker arrived in Scotland in November after being transferred from a zoo in Holland. He shares an enclosure with 28-year-old female polar bear Mercedes.
A team of four vets (one of whom was a dental specialist) anaesthetised him before he was hoisted on to an operating table built of hay bales inside one of the dens in the polar bear enclosure.
The vets removed the infected tooth which had caused the swelling during a four-hour operation.
A park spokesman told a local newspaper: “It was a pretty standard operation but it was made more unusual by his size.
“His teeth were X-rayed. At first they thought they could do a root canal operation but when they took a good look they realised they would have to do a removal. The operation lasted four hours. Walker was up and eating again soon after and he was right as rain the next day.”
The infection caused the tooth not to develop which is why it had to be removed. Vets believe the infection may have been caused by Walker breaking the tip off a tooth but it is not known how or when this happened.

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