(KUTV) -- The Utah Hogle Zoo and two experts performed a first-of-its kind dental procedure on one of its residents, Princess the white rhino, a press release stated.
Three loose molars were removed from the 4,000 pound animal's mouth. One of the molars was the size of a deck of cards.
Dr. Michael Lowder, a rhino expert from the University of Georgia and Dr. Ellen Wiedner, a specialist with extensive large mammal anesthesia experience from Colorado, helped the zoo with the procedure.
Around the beginning of the year, animal care staff noticed that Princess was drooling excessively and would sometimes drop hay when she ate.
"Working with animals is like caring for a family member," rhino keeper Lauren LeCoque said in a press release. "We know their behaviors and personalities. We'd been monitoring her drooling for a few months then we knew it was time to ask for help."
The professionals suspected the white rhino had a dental disease, so they contacted experts to help perform a dental exam on the animal.
"Hogle Zoo staff had prepared so well, including training Princess for a variety of procedures," Wiedner said in a press release. "They made my job of running the anesthesia very easy."
A group of 20 people assisted the experts while Princess was under anesthesia for the dental work .
Doing general anesthesia on a much-loved, elderly rhino could have been nerve-wracking, but the Hogle Zoo rhino and veterinary teams were wonderful," Dr. Wiedner said in a press release. "They were unbelievably well-prepared, knowledgeable and a lot of fun with worth with. The procedure could not have been any smoother."
Since the procedure, animal care staff has noticed a decrease in drooling and Princess appears to be feeling better, a press release stated.