How is Inka doing now after her dental procedure?

Blog post


The Elmwood Park Zoo staff cares for over 300 animals, including Inka, the jaguar, whose dental procedure we covered in our earlier blog posts. Dr Michele Goodman, an Elmwood Park Zoo veterinarian, recruited veterinary dental specialist Dr John Lewis for Inka’s latest procedure. For a follow up on Inka’s recovery, we reached out to Dr Goodman.

Dr Michele Goodman led the initiative to join forces with Dr John Lewis as to take care of Inka’s dental problem. Since Inka had suffered a stroke-like event after the first surgical procedure and showed neurologic damage after waking up from the anaesthesia, minimising anaesthesia time was of utmost importance for the zoo staff.

 "Although Inka is trained to open her mouth upon a hand command, her entire dentition cannot be examined unless she is under anaesthesia," Dr Goodman explains. Dr Lewis’ use of the Planmed Verity® CBCT scanner and its rapid image capturing helped to decrease the operation time.

The complete dental operation took five hours due to the immense size of the root of the canine tooth. According to Dr Goodman, the reduced procedure time was a critical factor for Inka’s improved recovery. "The standard intraoral X-rays would have added an hour to her time under anaesthesia in comparison to the minutes of a CBCT scan."

"The fact that there were no complications with the surgery was amazing. Anything to reduce the procedure time and complications was amazing," Dr Goodman added.

A year after the operation, Inka is doing great and has already returned to her regular life and diet. Inka was on soft foods for a month before switching to ground meat products and whole prey items with bones.

Living without a canine tooth has not changed Inka’s habits. Because the jaguar lives in the captivity, the zoo staff feeds her with food that she can chew even without the canine tooth.

"Inka feeds on hunter-sourced venison and deer legs along with smaller-boned whole prey items such as rats and guinea pigs. This diet fulfils her natural dietary requirements, keeps the tartar off her teeth, and serves as occupational stimulation. If she was living in the wild, a missing canine tooth may have been a problem," Dr Goodman states.

The Elmwood Park Zoo staff accesses Inka’s health every other year primarily through the collection of a blood sample at the tail while the feline is awake. Inka’s next examination with a full panel of imaging under sedation will take place in the fall of 2020. Dr Goodman is open to have another CBCT scan done at that time to assure that her dental health is on track.

Dr Michele Goodman, VDM, is a veterinarian at the Elmwood Park Zoo, taking care of the zoo’s inhabitants including the jaguar Inka, whose dental procedure was discussed in the case report and in the interview with Dr Lewis in detail.