A 50-pound endangered giant otter named Ticuna was anesthetized and underwent a successful double root canal procedure at Zoo Miami.
Ron Magill, Zoo Miami's communications director, called the procedure carried out on Wednesday "precedent-setting."
Ticuna had broken both of her upper canines, which exposed the pulp and generated "what was certainly severe pain."
"This is something that these animals will sometimes do in the wild while chewing on mollusks, bony fish and other hard substances," Magill added. "Unfortunately, in the wild, such injuries often prevent the animal from being able to eat properly and can lead to death."
Present in the operating room was Dr. Jan Bellows of All Pets Dental, along with Dr. Elizabeth McMorran and veterinary dental assistant Joana Macias. Zoo Miami’s veterinary team, led by Dr. Gaby Flacke, was there to assist.
Bellows and McMorran each worked on a separate canine simultaneously to reduce the time Ticuna would be under anesthesia in what is believed to be the first-ever double root canal on a giant river otter – the longest of the world's 13 otter species.
"Both root canals were performed successfully are without incident and Ticuna now appears to be fully recovered back at her habitat in Zoo Miami’s Amazon and Beyond exhibit," Magill added.
Giant river otter males can reach a length of six feet. The species is extremely endangered and is naturally found in isolated and remote areas within some freshwater lakes, creeks, rivers and reservoirs of tropical South America, Magill said.