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Taronga Zoo’s young male elephant, Luk Chai, 5, had some dental work on his tusks today.

Taronga’s Senior Veterinarian, Dr Larry Vogelnest, said some elephants including Luk Chai, have brittle tusks that are prone to cracking and infection.

“Like humans,  the hardness and strength of elephant tusks is different from elephant to elephant.  Some have very strong tusks while others have soft or brittle tusks.”

Through the course of normal play, Luk Chai had broken his small tusks close to his gums and zoo vets had been monitoring him for infection in that area.

An expert elephant dentist was brought in to work alongside zoo vets  to treat Luk Chai. They found an infection that had developed in both small tusks, which have been removed as a precaution.

The operation took about two hours and veterinarians expected the surgery to heal quickly.  Removing the tusks will not affect Luk Chai’s development.

In the wild, a tusk infection can lead to a fatal abscess, but Zoo vets were able to intervene.

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