Snow leopard gets treated for fractured tooth


The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine teams collaborate to help treat 10-year-old Trini

Trini the snow leopard. (Photo credit: Micke Grove Zoo)

Trini the snow leopard. (Photo credit: Micke Grove Zoo)

Fun facts about Trini and other snow leopards:1,2

  • Trini was born in May 2013 at the Albuquerque Zoo.
  • An estimated 4,500-7,500 snow leopards remain in the wild, mostly in central Asia.
    • An additional 600-700 snow leopards live in zoos around the world.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature currently classifies the snow leopard as "vulnerable" for threatened species.
    • Extinction is at high risk for snow leopards in the wild, but not yet endangered.
  • Snow leopards are known to be solitary animals.
  • Dawn and dusk are their most active times.
  • They prefer a cold and dry environment.

Trini, a 10-year-old female snow leopard at the Micke Grove Zoo in Lodi, California had her annual examination upcoming, but zoo caretakers noticed a fractured canine tooth in Trini’s mouth. This dental issue was taken care of with help from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine team. This university's Companion Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery Service hospital regularly provides other veterinary needs for the Micke Grove Zoo animals.1

The UC Davis exotics team worked alongside the hospital’s dentistry and oral surgery and anesthesia teams to give Trini a thorough treatment. The Micke Grove Zoo has an onsite clinic, which offers a safe space for surgery. The UC Davis team opted to travel to Lodi instead of transporting the leopard to the university. Trini, weighing in at 75 pounds, was able to be sedated with hand injection for the first time thanks to successful behavioral training for caretakers at the zoo worked with her on.1 The leopard was promptly transferred to the operating room, where anesthesiologists quickly readied her for oral surgery.

“While Trini is a fluffy and beautiful animal, she is also a dangerous predator, and her annual examination and dental procedure could only be performed safely while she was under general anesthesia,” said Krista Keller, DVM, DACZM, associate clinical professor of exotic animal medicine, in the university release. “Our anesthesiologists did a tremendous job of keeping Trini and everyone else safe during the surgery.”1

The large, left mandibular canine tooth needed to be removed, as Trini was not able to get a root canal treatment for this specific case. However, a dental evaluation and x-rays showed that Trini also had 3 fractured incisor teeth. The UC Davis teams determined that all 3 of these additional fractured teeth should be extracted as well, to reduce pain and to prevent future infection.1

The UC Davis team, led by Krista Keller, DVM, DACZM (center). (Photo credit: UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)

The UC Davis team, led by Krista Keller, DVM, DACZM (center). (Photo credit: UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine)

Trini was monitored for the next 4 weeks, to observe how she was recovering from her oral surgery. She was switched to an altered diet with soft foods, designed for large cats. She had to temporarily stop her ration of bones that she usually got twice a week, just until she was fully healed.1 Trini’s caretakers made sure that her new diet maintained all the essential dietary components she needed and was supplemented with any nutrients she was missing during this time.

The zoo has since reported that Trini currently shows no discomfort in her mouth after returning to her normal diet, and she has made a full recovery. Trini was also reported as being in excellent health in all other areas.


  1. Warren R. Exotics and dentistry and oral surgery teams collaborate to treat snow leopard’s fractured tooth. The Univesity of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. February 16, 2024. Accessed February 20, 2024.
  2. Key snow leopard facts. Accessed February 20, 2024.
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