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A root canal saved this tiger’s tooth from extinction

Tigers are just like humans: the older they are, the more likely they are to have issues with their teeth.

In the wild, an older tiger with a dental emergency probably wouldn’t survive, since he wouldn’t be able to catch and eat his prey. So Rama, an elderly 14-year-old Bengal tiger at a theme park in Australia, is lucky to have had timely treatment of a toothache.

Unfortunately for Dr. Vere Nicolson, the vet who performed an emergency root canal on Rama, the animals do not realize how lucky they are. Dr. Nicolson reports that the many of the animals in the theme park have dental phobia and a fear of needles. He’s even had nightmares about the animals taking revenge on him.

But as you can see from the photo, when Rama the fearsome tiger is sedated, he looks like the big pussycat that he really is.

Fun fact: Bengal tigers have the largest and longest teeth of any living cat. A male Bengal tiger may have a canine tooth up to 5 inches long. If a tiger’s canine tooth is broken, there is a good chance the tiger will starve.

Source: Jeremy Pierce. “Dreamworld tiger cops root canal surgery.” November 14, 2012.