Polar bear undergoes dental work at Highland Park

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Walker being operated on
Image caption,
Four vets had to sedate the 38-stone mammal to perform the procedure

A polar bear at the Highland Wildlife Park has undergone surgery to remove a tooth, after vets there found the two-year-old animal in pain.

It took 10 people to lift 38-stone Walker, who arrived at the park at Kincraig in November.

The bear had swelling on the side of his face and when antibiotics had no effect, vets sedated him so they could carry out root canal treatment.

They found Walker's canine was so badly damaged that it had to be removed.

A spokeswoman for the park said the tooth was blackened at the top, possibly because it was chipped when he was a cub, which may have stopped it developing properly.

She said he was now back to full health.

Image caption,
Young male Walker arrived at the park from a zoo in Holland

The park's animal collection manager Douglas Richardson said: "It's complicated but it's something that we have done in the zoo profession on a routine basis, so it's not as difficult for us as you might imagine.

"But when you're dealing with something that big it's not so much dentistry, more like carpentry."

Walker arrived from Rhenen Zoo in Holland and is expected to be part of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's (RZSS) polar bear breeding plans in the future.

The young male shares the park with Mercedes, a female bear who arrived from Edinburgh Zoo in 2009 and is about 30-years-old.

The pair have had a series of confrontations but the spokeswoman said Mercedes is now "warming" to her young counterpart.