Source: The Scotsman
Date: 1 July 2004

Dentures For Toothless
80 Year Old Elephant

aged female Indian elephant Morakot eating bananas after being fitted with custom-made dentures

An elderly elephant in Thailand has a new lease on life after a vet fitted the animal with custom-made dentures, a newspaper reported today.

Morakot, an 80-year-old elephant in captivity at a park in the western province of Kanchanaburi, had been unable to chew her food because she had lost her teeth, the Bangkok Post quoted Dr Somsak Jitniyom as saying.

Kept alive with injected saline solution, vitamins and antibiotics, she had become so weak she had collapsed four times and needed to be supported by a sling of chains hung from a tree, he said.

Elephants have six sets of teeth in a lifetime, but after they lose their last molar they cannot chew properly and often die from malnutrition or starvation.

Somsak fashioned a U-shaped denture about 6in wide and 6in long from stainless steel, silicone and plastic. It was fitted while she was under sedation.

He could not say if anyone else has previously made dentures for elephants, although animal dentists have fitted replacement tusks on the beasts.

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