Pretoria vets heal elephant’s toothache in Georgia zoo

“Grand’s previous surgery had many complications. One of them was a protracted recovery time‚ and the zoo was reluctant to operate on him soon after that procedure‚” said Steenkamp‚ who teaches courses in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery of animals at UP’s faculty of veterinary science.

Steenkamp and Tordiffe have travelled the world treating elephants in Australia‚ Asia‚ Africa and Europe‚ and so they were called on to treat Grand.

Tordiffe‚ who gained experience in elephant immobilisations and anaesthesia while working at the Pretoria Zoo‚ has vast knowledge of anaesthetising elephants in small spaces‚ said UP‚ while Steenkamp has developed techniques to treat elephant tusks since 1998.

Commenting on this week’s surgery‚ Steenkamp said: “The anaesthesia and surgery went according to plan‚ and everyone was relieved when Grand stood on his legs four hour and 15 minutes later. His previous recovery from anaesthesia was very stormy‚ and was about six hours‚ and he took about 12 hours to stand. But this time it was only minutes until he stood.

“It was humbling when the whole crowd burst into applause when he stood. It was clear that this elephant meant so much to the people of Georgia‚ and they were so relieved for him.”

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