Tembo gets the dental works

TEMBO the elephant showed just how thick-skinned he is when he underwent rare surgery for a filling.The 23-year-old bull elephant – whose arrival at Colchester Zoo was sponsored by The Evening Star, snapped eight inches off his left tusk and without the dental work it was at risk of infection.

TEMBO the elephant showed just how thick-skinned he is when he underwent rare surgery for a filling.

The 23-year-old bull elephant - whose arrival at Colchester Zoo was sponsored by The Evening Star, snapped eight inches off his left tusk and without the dental work it was at risk of infection.

Specialist vet John Lewis carried out the jumbo task of anaesthetising Tembo, while top dentist Peter Kertesz worked on the tusk.

Mr Kertez is a human dentist but also specialises in treating animals and has performed the procedure hundreds of times before.


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Tembo lay on the floor of the elephant house and was given oxygen and a strong anaesthetic while the hole was filled. The procedure took around an hour to perform from start to finish.

Zoo curator Anthony Tropeano said that the operation had been a complete success.

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He said: "Whenever you use anaesthetic there are risks.

"It was hard to assess the damage without first knocking him out, but when we did we were pleased to find that it wasn't as extensive as we first thought."

Dr Tropeano added that he didn't know how Tembo had damaged the tusk, but that it was rare for an elephant to snap off so much.

The elephant will now be watched closely by his keepers, but they are confident that no more work will be needed.

Tembo has already showed that he is a fighter. The Star sponsored his upkeep after he was rescued from Chipperfield Zoo back in 1998.

He has now been at Colchester for six years and is the proud father of two calves Jambo and Kito, and has become one of the favourite exhibits at the zoo which is one of the biggest tourist attractions in East Anglia.

What do you think of the elephants at Colchester zoo? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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