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Snow Leopard Vet Visit

16 March 2017

Snow Leopard Leon visited the Zoo’s veterinary surgery this morning for treatment of a broken canine tooth.   

Veterinary dental specialist Dr. Steve Coles found that the nerve of Leon’s broken tooth was still alive, so he didn’t need to perform a root canal filling.

Dr. Coles said that the vigilance of Carnivore Keepers reporting the broken tooth so quickly had enabled treatment to take place before the root died, so he was able to perform a pulpectomy to protect the nerve with three layers of filling.

Dr. Coles is a longtime supporter of Melbourne Zoo, volunteering his expertise for the past 30 years when the Zoo vet team needs specialist dental backup.

Zoo Vet Dr. Sarah Frith managed the overall procedure and performed checks on other aspects of Leon’s health, taking advantage of his surgery visit to examine his eyes, ears, and joints, as well as taking a blood sample.   .

She also took an X-ray of Leon’s spine to monitor any age-related changes, as he is now almost 16, considered to be a good age for any big cat.

Dr. Frith found that there are early indications of mild degenerative changes as she expected would be the case, consistent with Leon’s age.

Leon is currently living in a new behind-the-scenes facility built to accommodate him, his mate Meo, and their daughter Sundar while the new Leopard Ridge development is built on the site of their former exhibits.

The former Big Cat area is now a construction site and closed to visitors.

Leopard Ridge will open in December 2017, and it will display Snow Leopards and other predator species: Coatis, Tasmanian Devils, and a Sumatran Tiger.

The new development will be an extension of Lion Gorge, where lions, African Hunting Dogs, and the endangered Philippine Crocodile will be on view.

The two linked areas will form a winding predator trail that will also highlight some of Zoos Victoria’s conservation initiatives.

Leopard Ridge and the new behind-the-scenes accommodation where Leon, Meo, and Sundar will be living until December 2017 have been fully funded by a $9m State Government grant.