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Vets prepare Cooper for the CT Scan

Cooper getting ready for a CT Scan

Taronga’s juvenile Californian Sea-lion, ‘Cooper’, recently went to the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH) at Ryde, for a CT scan to check his teeth and jaw.

The CT scan technology enabled Taronga vets to study a 3D x-ray image to determine if there was any evidence of bone infection in his jaw as a result of prior dental problems.

Zoo Veterinarian, Frances Hulst, brought the young male, to the specialist centre where he was placed inside the CT scan machine, whilst anesthetised.

The Californian Sealion, arrived at Taronga Zoo in 2009 from Germany. Shortly after its arrival, Taronga’s dedicated marine mammals keepers noticed Cooper’s bottom canines were exceptionally worn down, almost half the size they should have been.

Taronga Zoo Veterinarian, Frances said: “We’re not sure what happened  initially to cause the damage to Cooper’s teeth, although young Californian Sea-lions are known to sometimes rub or abrade their teeth, causing damage.”


The sea-lion has undergone prior dental procedures at Taronga Zoo performed by consultant Veterinary Dentist, Dr. David Clarke, at Taronga, which has included root canal treatment and more recently the removal of his bottom canines because of infection.”

“It’s our priority to ensure the best welfare of the animals in our care, and although Cooper is certainly eating fine and not showing any signs of pain or discomfort, we wanted to make sure, by doing a CT scan, that there wasn’t any further infection in and around the jaw bones,” said Frances.

“If an infection was undetected, it may cause the bone to become weaker and therefore prone to fractures later down the track.”

The CT scan results will be examined by Dr Clarke and SASH’s Veterinary Dentist Nadine Fiani to determine whether further treatment is needed.

Californian Sea-ions have 34 – 38 sharp teeth, including four large canine teeth and smaller incisors. The teeth are designed for grasping and tearing food.

At Taronga the seals are trained to open their mouths on request for regular dental checks.

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