Our Dentists

Sayan, The Siberian Tiger & The Toothache That Changed Her Life

We’ve heard of funny, embarrassing and the I’m-not-coming-back-to-that-clinic dental stories. Then there are always the traumatic ones.

Imagine the pain that humbled Sayan, a 160kg female Siberian tiger which prompted his keepers at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park to consult a dentist. They said she’s been acting grumpily and thinking that it could be toothache that was causing her discomfort, a specialist dentist was called in to examine her teeth.

After a complete and careful check-up, Dr. Peter Kertesz opted to perform a root canal filling to one of Sayan’s lower canine.

Two hours into her root canal surgery, she succumbed to a very rare reaction. They checked her and found that there was no pulse or heartbeat.

The vets immediately started cardiac massage and gave Sayan a shot of intravenous adrenaline. When that did not work, they gave her another adrenaline shot directly into the heart while doing cardiac massage.

Gradually, Sayan’s heart returned to a steady rhythm and a few minutes after, the vets took off her ventilation and she managed to breathe by herself.

‘There is always a risk with anaesthetics but I have not seen this reaction in a tiger in 27 years and I have worked on hundreds of big cats.’ said Dr. Kertesz.

Sayan has fully recovered and is now much better tempered, according to the Wildlife Park director, Cheryl Williams.

Sayan was brought to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in 2011 as part of the Siberian Tiger Breeding Program. She was kept in a separate but adjacent enclosure to three year old Vladimir for eight months before their official ‘pairing-up date’ on Valentine’s day.

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