Brave Hippo Is a Dentist's Perfect Patient

hippo at the dentist photo
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Orion the hippo gets a visit from the dentist. Photos via AFP/Getty

For a lot of people, visiting the dentist is a traumatic experience--the poking, the prodding, the unnerving sound of the drill. Some even shudder just to receive that 'friendly notice' in the mail, reminding them to get a check-up--the cartoon of that anthropomorphic tooth smiling, clutching a toothbrush offering little consolation from the dread. Well, none of this anxiety about visiting with the dentist seems to be a problem for one particular patient: a hippo named Orion. The 6 thousand pound animal recently underwent important oral surgery at a zoo in Colombia--all without the aid of anesthesia. Last October, the 9 year old hippo born in captivity damaged one of his incisors while biting a metal column in his enclosure. The animal wasn't seriously hurt, but his dentist, Iván Bano, thought it best to fix the problem to avoid the complications of it becoming infected.

The zoo decided to perform the procedure without the use of anesthesia, since hippos run the risk of asphyxiation when sedated due to their massive size. Bano believes that this is the first time such dental work has been performed on a lucid hippo, according to a report in El Colombiano.

hippo dentist mouth open photo

Hippopotamuses, in the wild, are one of the most dangerous animals in the world--meaning usually such a close-up view of the inside of the animals mouth is the last thing a person ever sees. So, to avoid any loss of life or limb during the procedure, Orion's handler spent three months training the hippo to keep his mouth open for long periods of time, allowing someone to touch his teeth.

The procedure was completed in just about ten minutes. Oh, and no one was killed.

No word on whether the brave hippo was rewarded for his good behavior during the dental work, but if ever one was worthy of a lollypop, it would be Orion--and then, after him, perhaps his dentist.