TACOMA — Boris, the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s huge, 29-year-old polar bear, had a bear of a toothache — and grumpy behemoths aren’t something that anyone wants. So the decision was made for a dental visit.
So Dr. Loïc Legendre, a veterinary dental specialist, performed the oral surgery with the assistance of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf, associate veterinarian Dr. Allison Case, and a team of support staff.
Legendre removed three of Boris’ teeth.
Though the veterinarians had hoped the teeth might be saved, they were too far diseased and damaged for repair, Legendre said. It’s not unusual for a polar bear of Boris’ age to have decayed teeth, the dentist said.
While Boris was anesthetized, veterinarians also conducted a thorough physical exam, Wolf said.
At 29, Boris is showing signs of age, but he’s generally in good health, Wolf said. He is one of the oldest polar bears in North American zoos. Polar bears live an average of 15 to 18 years in the wild, according to Polar Bears International.
Boris came to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in 2002 following his rescue from a traveling circus. He is one of three polar bears in the zoo’s Arctic Tundra exhibit.