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A rescued 300-pound tiger needs a root canal. Step into the operation room with tiger vet Dr. Justin Boorstein for a fascinating look inside a tiger’s mouth in virtual reality. USA TODAY NETWORK
If you think dental work on humans is complicated – imagine treating a 300-pound tiger with teeth seven inches long.
Meet Priya, a 14-year-old tiger rescued from a roadside zoo in Colorado. When her new caretakers at Big Cat Rescue noticed that she had a few infected teeth, they called up tiger vet Dr. Justin Boorstein for help.
Dr. Boorstein might look calm during the procedure, but he claims that it’s always stressful to work with big cats. The biggest risk is not knowing how they will react to anesthesia. Even after sedating around 100 big cats, Dr. Boorstein’s uncertainty remains.
Tag along with Priya on her trip to the dentist with VRtually There in the video below.
Rotten teeth like Priya’s are often the result of a lack of calcium-rich milk as a cub. Priya spent most of her life in a facility where she was used for breeding. In the wild, mother tigers will raise their cubs for as long as two years, which means they only produce a litter naturally every three years. In captivity, some cubs are separated from their mother when they are only days old so the tiger can be bred again quickly. The cubs are then sold to zoos or other venues that charge visitors for the opportunity to take photographs with them or pet them.
Priya’s story is one of many that demonstrates the need for organizations like Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. The sanctuary is home to formerly neglected and mistreated tigers, lions, cougars, bobcats, and leopards. It provides naturalistic enclosures for all its exotic feline residents.
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And whatever you do, don’t forget to look around.