Shepreth Wildlife Park red panda back on bamboo after tooth infection

PUBLISHED: 08:38 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:42 20 June 2018

Red panda Ember, based at Shepreth Wildlife Park, is now recovering after having dentistry work for a diseased molar completed by a team from Royston Veterinary Centre. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife Park

Red panda Ember, based at Shepreth Wildlife Park, is now recovering after having dentistry work for a diseased molar completed by a team from Royston Veterinary Centre. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife Park

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A red panda at Shepreth Wildlife Park is back to eating her favourite bamboo after Royston vets treated her infected tooth.

Red panda Ember coming round from the anaesthetic after her treatment. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife ParkRed panda Ember coming round from the anaesthetic after her treatment. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife Park

Staff noticed that Ember – who has has lived at the park for three years, along with her sister, Sundara – had begun losing weight, but couldn’t work out the cause as all her food was being eaten.

Her primary keeper Yvonne Morrin told the Crow: “Unfortunately, red pandas are very fluffy, so it can be hard to tell what their body condition is really like. Wild animals often mask pain, since vulnerable animals in the wild are predated upon – but we noticed that she had become more withdrawn.

“The two pandas have very different personalities. Ember is quiet and gentle, and likes to spend time at the top of her tree, napping. Sundara is bold and confident.”

Treatment for a diseased molar was completed by a team from Royston Veterinary Centre. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife ParkTreatment for a diseased molar was completed by a team from Royston Veterinary Centre. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife Park

Red pandas consume their own body weight in bamboo every day, and Ember and Sundara – both aged five – are weighed monthly, and trained for veterinary checks.

At the last weigh-in, as well as finding that Ember was losing weigh, they also saw that Sundara had been gaining – so it was clear she had been doing her bit to finish off Ember’s helpings when she was unable to due to her poorly tooth.

Yvonne said: “After an investigation, Ember was found to have a cracked crown on a lower molar, which had become infected. This had made her reluctant to eat hard foods, such as bamboo and root vegetables – so she had been consuming only soft fruit and a zoo-diet ‘panda-cake’.

Ember's tooth problem was stopping her from eating bamboo, her favourite meal. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife ParkEmber's tooth problem was stopping her from eating bamboo, her favourite meal. Picture: Shepreth Wildlife Park

“Surgery at Royston Veterinary Centre was advised, and the troublesome tooth was successfully removed. Now a week later, Ember is back to her old self, eating and participating in training sessions. She is especially enjoying the new season’s apricots, pears, blueberries and grapes, and she can eat her favourite – bamboo leaves – again. Her keepers are relieved.

“Meanwhile, sister Sundara is on strict rations until she drops the extra pounds!”

Ember – whose moniker was inspired by a common name for red pandas – and Sundara can be seen every day at Shepreth Wildlife Park, where they act as ambassadors for their wild cousins in the Himalayas, endangered due to poaching and deforestation.

Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity is a proud supporter of the Red Panda Network which operates in home-range countries to protect red pandas. This year, the wildlife park will be hosting a fun Red Panda Day on Saturday, September 15, with proceeds going to the RPN.

For more information on the site, go to sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk.

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