Checking in on Charo the Cheetah

Name: Charo

Sex: Female

Species: Cheetah

Age: 7 years

Weight: 48 kg (105.8 lb)

Reason for Visit: Dental exam and abdominal ultrasound

Before the Zoo closed to the public, during a training session with Charo, Keepers noticed a discolored canine tooth and alerted veterinary staff. A change in color of the tooth had staff concerned for the health of the tooth, so Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian, scheduled an exam for Charo with Dr. Colleen Fox from the Center of Veterinary Expertise (COVE). Since Charo was undergoing anesthesia for a dental exam, Dr. Keith Kremer, a veterinary internal medicine specialist, was invited to perform an opportunistic abdominal ultrasound as part of her full wellness exam.

While Dr. Clabbers closely monitored anesthesia, Dr. Fox and her team conducted dental radiographs using a radiography machine specifically designed for teeth. This machine provides a better quality image of not only the tooth, but also tooth root, which holds the tooth in place. The radiograph showed that the upper right canine tooth would need a root canal. Since Charo was already at the Animal Wellness Campus and the best teams were assembled, the issue was able to be addressed immediately.

A nerve block was performed to numb the area and decrease any pain Charo may feel during the procedure. By doing this, staff can also decrease the amount of anesthetic gas Charo needs during the procedure, which allows for a quicker recovery. A routine root canal was performed, just like humans would have at their dentist office. Dr. Kremer also performed a full abdominal ultrasound to collect images of Charo’s vital organs, such as the liver, kidneys, spleen and intestines, to track their health over time, and also collected blood and urine samples for routine analysis.

Charo’s intestinal tract

After the exam, Charo returned to her exhibit and is back to her normal routine, which includes training with Keepers, interacting with enrichment and eating her normal diet and favorite foods. Dr. Colleen has scheduled follow-up dental radiographs in one year.