Gorilla gets her toothache fixed

One of Bristol Zoo’s female gorillas underwent a successful dental procedure to remove teeth that were causing her discomfort.


Romina, the 36-year-old Western lowland gorilla was undergoing a routine health check from vets at Bristol Zoo when they noticed signs of infection in her mouth.

Since gorilla mouths are similar to human mouths, zoo vets wanted the combined skills of a veterinary and human dentist.

They contacted Dr Alex Smithson, a veterinary dentist dual-qualified as a veterinary and human dental surgeon, who agreed to visit the zoo and treat Romina.

The procedure, which took two hours to complete, included a full dental examination and x-rays and was performed under general anaesthesia inside Sanlam Gorilla House.

A team of Bristol Zoo’s keepers, veterinary nurses and vets ensured Romina’s comfort and safety throughout. Support was also provided by Processing Imaging Equipment Services Ltd.

The company kindly loaned a portable digital dental X-ray machine, with images processed by their representative, Grieg Durrant.

Dr Smithson said: “I was thrilled to be in a position to help the veterinary department at Bristol Zoo look after this beautiful animal. Romina is the first gorilla I’ve treated and I definitely drew on my experience with human patients.


“It all went very well thanks to the care of the Bristol Zoo staff and the whole team should be praised for their dedication to Romina’s welfare.”