Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Renowned vet dentist flies in to help Operation Spirit of Freedom lions

Posted: 21 February 2015. Updated: 1 July 2015

Lions and tigers in traveling circuses often suffer in silent agony for years due to broken and infected teeth. A blow to the face of a lion during training or when the animal is being moved can lead to a lifetime of pain.

At our Operation Spirit of Freedom rescue center in Peru, where the 21 lions ADI has saved from circuses across the country are being cared for, a significant number of the big cats have traumatic injuries to their teeth.

This week Dr Peter Emily, regarded by many as the inventor of veterinary dentistry, flew in from the US with a team from the Peter Emily Foundation to perform dental surgery on two of the most urgent cases. Damage which, left unattended, had the potential to be lethal.

Simba, who was saved from a circus in Ayacucho, suffered with a large canine tooth with its top smashed off. The damaged tooth had become infected and split. Simba was anaesthetised and carried on a stretcher to the field operating theatre in the rescue center. Dr Emily salvaged the tooth by cutting more off and then building a custom brace to bind the remaining tooth together, saving the tooth. The lion’s other damaged teeth were also cleaned out and repaired.

Junior, the oldest lion at 17 years old, had massive infected dental damage. When pus had erupted through the old lion’s cheek, the ADI veterinary team called in Dr Emily. The dentist reviewed the images sent by our vets and decided he should operate with some urgency. Dr Emily made the most urgent repairs during procedures that lasted over an hour; he will have to undertake further surgery to completely repair the damage to Junior’s teeth.

A group of Lima veterinary students volunteering at the rescue center were able to work with the ADI vets, monitoring and keeping the lions stable during surgery; they saw, up close, the world’s best veterinary dentists at work which we believe will leave a lasting legacy of care for animals in Peru.

It is a privilege to have the Dr Peter Emily Foundation team, whose foundation donates their services to projects like Operation Spirit of Freedom, working with ADI in Peru and Simba and Junior, who recovered rapidly from their procedures, woke up feeling better than they have in years thanks to Dr Emily’s surgery. The team will now assess the 22 monkeys who have also been rescued during the mission.

In the coming weeks almost 60 animals rescued during Operation Spirit of Freedom will be relocated to permanent homes – with ADI currently building habitats in the Amazon forest for the native wildlife. The 21 lions will be joined by 9 from Colombian circuses on the Spirit of Freedom Flight to their forever home. Dr Emily will be performing dental surgery on most of the lions once they reach their new home.

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