Dentist sorts out a 28-stone gorilla with tooth trouble

By Candice Krieger, September 12, 2008

What do you give a 28-stone silverback gorilla with toothache? A wide berth - unless, that is, you are London dentist Peter Kertesz.

Dr Kertesz, 64, who specialises in wildlife dentistry, spent 45 minutes operating on the animal, called Pertinax, to successfully remove a three-inch tooth.

Officials at the Paignton Zoo in Devon, where surgery took place, say Pertinax was "understandably groggy" following the operation, for which he was anaesthetised for two and a half hours.

"Animals are anaesthetised for longer as you can't reason with them like you can with most humans," said Dr Kertesz, who runs his own (human) dental practice in Central London.

Born in Budapest, Dr Kertesz moved to England in 1957 and trained at London's King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry.

He began working on animals in 1978 and now devotes one day a week to them. He is the dental consultant to London Zoo and several wildlife establishments around the world. He has treated killer whales, aardvarks and zebras, but does not have a favourite.

"I try to do the best for all of them. Animals or people, they get the same treatment. I believe in doing everything that's necessary."

And how is Pertinax? "The gorilla is apparently doing very well. I would expect nothing else."

Last updated: 11:25am, September 15 2008