Hogle Zoo's male Amur leopard is scheduled for root canal dental surgery Saturday, one of the first major procedures performed in the Salt Lake City zoo's new veterinary hospital.
The new L.S. Skaggs Animal Health Center nearly doubled the amount of treatment, hospital and quarantine space, compared to the old animal hospital.
Zoo keepers discovered the leopard's tooth cracked and partially missing due to his "open mouth behavior" during training. Because the tooth is still partly intact, zoo staff are opting for the root canal rather than leaving the meat-eating leopard without a canine tooth.
Veterinary dentist John F. Huff III will perform the surgery using a handheld X-ray machine donated by Aribex, an Orem company.
The leopard came to Hogle Zoo in 2006 from the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania, where he was born in 2004.
» These leopards are among the most endangered cat species in the world due to loss of habitat from logging and uncontrolled burns in their native lands of far eastern Russia and northeast China.
» There are fewer than 40 Amur leopards left in the wild, and just over 70 in accredited North American zoos.