BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — They didn’t go back to their den with a bag full of floss and new toothbrushes, but two Mexican wolves at the Beardsley Zoo did brave root canals and tooth extractions recently.
It’s all part of the zoo’s regular medical and dental care regime, said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho.
“Good veterinary care is vital to the wellbeing of our animals,” Dancho said. “We spend a great deal of time and effort on preventative health care, including dental procedures when necessary.
“Our animal caretakers watch their animals very carefully for any sign of distress or illness, including pain from teeth that require attention.”
A veterinary dental surgeon made a zoo house call to perform the wolves’ root canals and other procedures. Due to the need for antibiotics to prevent infection — and the difficulty of administering medication in a zoo exhibit — one of the two wolves will remain off exhibit for as much as a month.
“Many people don’t realize the depth of specialization that is available in animal care today,” Dancho said. “Our animal care staff, curators and veterinarians are focused on health, nutrition, animal behavior and enrichment activities, and the best therapeutic treatment available.”
The zoo is home to two Mexican gray wolves and two Red wolves, all extremely rare and on the Endangered Species list. Both species at one time were completely extinct in the wild.
By the mid 1980s, hunting, trapping and poisoning caused the extinction of Mexican “lobos” in the wild, with only a handful remaining in captivity. In 1998, a new chapter in the Mexican wolf’s history began, with a homecoming that changed the landscape. There are 300-400 Mexican wolves in zoos today, but only about 40-50 in the wild.
The two Mexican gray wolves are sisters, born in 2007 at the California Wolf Center in Julian, Calif.
Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is located at 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, and parking at the zoo is free. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.com .