What Clean Teeth You Have! | God's World News
What Clean Teeth You Have!
Critter File
Posted: January 01, 2024
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    Dr. Karen Wolf gives a dental exam to a red wolf in Eatonville, Washington. The wolf is known as 2077. (Reuters/Matt Mills McKnight)
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    2077 gets its teeth checked. (Reuters/Matt Mills McKnight)
  • 3 wolfdentist
    A red wolf at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Seattle, Washington (Katie Cotterill/Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium/Handout via Reuters)
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    Red wolf pups at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (Katie Cotterill/Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium/Handout via Reuters)
  • 1 wolfdentist
  • 2 wolfdentist
  • 3 wolfdentist
  • 4 wolfdentist JPG


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A doctor checks her patient’s teeth. He gets a good cleaning, X-rays, and one diseased tooth pulled. Does this sound like a typical trip to the dentist? It’s not. This patient is not a person. He’s a red wolf!

Red wolves are native to the southeastern United States. People hunted and killed so many of them that the species nearly became extinct. Now some zoos breed red wolves and release them into the wild.

Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, has a breeding and reintroduction program. Keepers include dental exams and teeth-cleaning in their care. Healthy teeth are important for humans and wolves.

“American red wolves that are in managed care tend to live a lot longer than red wolves that [are] free ranging. And that’s because they do have annual exams and dental hygiene,” says Karen Wolf. She is the zoo’s head veterinarian—and yes, Dr. Wolf is her real name.

Wild or free-ranging wolves sometimes get broken teeth. “You might find some fractures in their teeth, which would prevent them from eating meat very well,” Dr. Wolf says. And a wolf that can’t eat meat is in big trouble.

Dr. Wolf examines a nine-year-old red wolf known as 2077. In addition to tooth care, she gives it vaccines and draws some of its blood to make sure its organs are working well.

Every wolf counts. Only a little fewer than 270 red wolves are known to exist, mostly in managed care or zoos. Just 20 live in the wild. They roam in three wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina.

Why? Each of God’s creatures is important to the habitat He placed it in. And each part of those creatures’ bodies matters to their well-being.