Local Dentist Helps Annie The Otter Get Her Smile Back

Local News
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Annie the otter has brought smiles to the faces of thousands of zoo visitors. Now, thanks to the help of a local dentist, Annie has something to smile about.

After damaging her teeth over the winter, Annie was brought to the North Country Animal Health Center to receive a root canal and crowns. At the helm was Dr. Peter M. Virga, DDS, from the Watertown Dental Health Group. Also present was Dr. Shannon Vicario, zoo veterinarian from the North Country Animal Health Center, assisted by Zach Matott, LVT, and Amy Wonderly, LVT.

“Annie was a great patient, considering it was her first trip to the dentist,” said Dr. Vicario. “She went down without a fuss, and recovered quickly from the procedure.”

Dr. Matthew Holdgate from the New York State Zoo attended the procedure. “The skill and professionalism of Drs. Virga and Vicario cannot be overstated,” said the zoo’s new Executive Director. “Neither batted an eye when I requested their help. It’s great to know the community is full of people who are ready and able to support the zoo when we call.”

The procedure was also attended by zookeeper Rachael Rice, who remained at Annie’s side to comfort her and ensure that when Annie woke up that she saw a familiar face. Zoo employee Nick Stacey was present to document the procedure.

North American River Otters use their sharp canine teeth for catching and grasping prey, while their molars are used to crush and grind the shells of invertebrates, such as molluscs. Annie is one of four North American River Otters currently exhibited at the New York State Zoo. Their diet at the zoo includes fish, meat, clams, and more, such as an occasional peanut for a treat. The exhibit is sponsored by Carthage Federal Savings and Loan.

Photos and videos from the procedure are available for use by the media. To request photos or video, please contact matt@nyszoo.org or 315-755-0892.


About the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park: The zoo exhibits species that are, or at one time were, native to New York State. Animals of all shapes and sizes make their home at our 32-acre zoo, including wolverines, bea rs, eagles, mountain lions and more. The zoo is dedicated to providing natural world experiences that foster an appreciation of the Empire State’s ecosystems through conservation, education, scientific study and responsible recreation. For more information, please visit www.nyszoo.org.

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