· Text the Word “MAC” to 20222 to Make $10 Donation
· Dental Bill is $100,000+ for Little Mac, Who Was Unable to Chew Food Properly
· Donations May Also be Made by Phone, at the Zoo, or Online at www.sbzoo.org
· Zoo CEO: Dental Procedure Not Uncommon But Not Routine
· Brick Sized Teeth, Dental Team of 30, and a Huge Crane
“Anyone with a cell phone can now help Little Mac,” notes Zoo CEO Rich Block. “It’s an easy and fun way to show the big girl that you care, and assist us with her jumbo dental bill, which tops $100,000.”
A $10 “give-by-text” donation can be made by texting the word “MAC” to 20222 from the donor’s cell phone, which is added to their mobile phone bill or deducted from a prepaid balance. Donations may be given several times a month, depending on the carrier, and are tax deductible.
Donations may also be made by phone (805-962-5339), onsite at the Zoo (both at Admissions and at the elephant exhibit) and online at www.sbzoo.org.
About Little Mac’s Teeth
The Zoo’s veterinarian Dr. Julie Barnes and elephant team have been monitoring and treating Little Mac’s teeth for several years, and the Asian elephant has eaten relatively normally and remained healthy despite ongoing dental issues.
Recently, her keepers noticed that it was taking her longer to eat, and she was eating more slowly. Her boli (dung) contained increasing amounts of material that wasn’t being processed in her digestive system. Most critically, Little Mac began to lose weight.
Keepers have trained Zoo’s two elephants to open their mouths on cue, and could see that her four brick-sized teeth (two on each side) were worn such that she couldn’t grind her food.
Team of 30 Performed Procedures
“Elephants get several sets of teeth through their lives, but Little Mac’s dental work needed to be done immediately due to her weight loss and difficulty eating,” adds Block. “Though her condition was urgent, it isn’t uncommon – but that doesn’t mean it is a routine event. We called in the best team in the country to help us perform her dental work.”
A team of over 30 animal health care professionals were involved, including experts from The Colyer Institute, who have conducted this procedure previously on other elephants. The Institute’s Dr. David Fagan, a dentist specializing in exotic animals, worked with two veterinarians from the San Diego Safari Park, Dr. James Oosterhuis and Dr. Jeff Zuba, and Santa Barbara Zoo veterinarians Dr. Barnes and Dr. Sam Dover, plus other technicians and veterinary personnel.
Little Mac was anaesthetized and the procedures took place off-exhibit. Dentists drilled, filed, and chiseled her teeth to create level chewing surfaces. The left side was done on June 4, and the right side on July 30. A huge crane was visible outside the exhibit to support her if she needed help standing afterwards, but it was not needed.
Sujatha, the Zoo’s other Asian elephant, was kept occupied in another exhibit area during the procedures by keepers and staff. On both occasions, Little Mac recovered quickly and was reunited with Sujatha on exhibit within several hours. Keepers observed her eating more after her first procedure.
Though it is not clear exactly what led to Little Mac’s dental woes, Dr. Fagan stated he believes it is congenital (present from birth). Little Mac will eat a soft diet in the near future, and her upper left molar, which is broken, will be flushed daily with a specially designed, elephant sized water pik to remove any impacted food.
Little Mac was found as an orphaned calf wandering in the jungle of southern India. In 1972, the Zoo traded two California sea lions for two young elephants at the Mysore Zoo in southern India. The Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and Herb Peterson, who owned the local McDonald’s (and invented the Egg McMuffin), were the primary sponsors. Mr. Peterson was given naming rights for one of the animals and named her Little Mac after McDonald’s “new” product, the Big Mac.
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