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Good oral health ensures the orangutans in our care will be prepared to thrive in the wild. Recently OFI Australia funded a trip by specialist wildlife vets and OFI Australia Ambassadors Dr Larry Vogelnest (Senior Veterinarian at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo) and Dr Chantal Whitten (Associate Veterinarian at Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital) to the OFI Care Centre and Quarantine facility in Borneo, where they spent a week with the OFI veterinary staff training them in dental care and the diagnosis and management of dental disease.

OFI Australia also purchased all the needed specialised dental equipment such as a dental x-ray machine, teeth cleaning devices and a sophisticated tooth extraction tool called an IM3 Vet-tome. This was all made possible through generous donations from you, our wonderful supporters.

Dental disease is common in rescued orangutans being held in care. The main causes being that an orangutan’s diet consists mainly of fruit, which can be high in sugars (fructose and sucrose) and also sadly through malnutrition in the rescued infants that come into care. Dental decay is common.

From Dr Larry and Dr Chantal

“Our week at OFI’s Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine was an incredible experience. We trained the OFI veterinary staff on how to examine and diagnose dental disease in orangutans and how to successfully extract diseased teeth. The week involved many discussions identifying the issues that contribute to dental disease in care and how they could be addressed. The veterinary staff learnt very quickly, and it was a fantastic collaboration between the Australian and Indonesian vets.

Over the week, twelve orangutans were anaesthetised for dental examinations and procedures. The OFI veterinary team were enthusiastic and very keen to learn, quickly becoming proficient in the use of their new equipment.

Each examination involved detailed examination of all teeth, photographs of teeth and full mouth x-rays. Interpretation of the x-rays can be challenging, and we carefully went through all the x-rays with the vets to ensure they were able to identify and interpret abnormalities and come up with a treatment plan based on the findings. We helped them identify which teeth to extract and those that could be monitored at annual health checks.

Overall, it was an incredibly successful week. The veterinary team at OFI are now equipped with new skills and the confidence to perform dental examination and treatment. We can’t thank OFI Australia enough for engaging us to help and look forward to more collaboration.”