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Doctor performs root canal on chimpanzee at Metro Richmond Zoo

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 5:51 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - You’ve probably heard many incredible stories of health professionals in the greater Richmond community, but one doctor went beyond the call of duty to lend a hand to an unexpected patient.

Kip, a chimpanzee at the Metro Richmond Zoo, had a tooth issue that was driving him bananas. He had some swelling around his mouth and ultimately needed a root canal.

Endodontist Dr. Bruce Overton, who has a clinic in Chesterfield County, stepped in to get to the root of the problem.

“He’s been a big asset to helping the Zoo,” Director of Metro Richmond Zoo Jim Andelin said. “It’s just great to have people in the community that are willing to help out in that way.”

Kip the chimp was put under anesthesia and Dr. Overton got to work. He fixed up his bad tooth and now Kip is as good as new.

However, this wasn’t his first rodeo. Dr. Overton has had his hands full with plenty of animals.

“My vet made the contact years ago with Dr. Overton and his office when we needed a root canal done on a lion,” Andelin said.

Dr. Overton also operated on a snow leopard and two bears. He needs larger equipment to get the job done, but the procedures aren’t all too different.

“Granted, he makes his living working on people and the animals have bigger teeth and big canines and he has some instruments that allows him to work on animals,” Andelin said.

Andelin says sometimes it’s hard to tell when an animal is having a health issue.

“In the wild, they don’t want to show any signs of weakness because they could then become prey, and so they hide that,” he said.

That’s why the zookeepers are attentive and either call a vet or other health specialists when a problem arises.

Kip is back with his chimpanzee troop, pain-free, and enjoying life, but if you’ve got a toothache, click here for Dr. Overton’s clinic information.

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