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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 April 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Chinese panda gets his teeth done
Giant pandas (file picture)
Giant pandas chew bamboo for over 12 hours a day
Chinese giant panda Xiaopingping has become the first of his species to undergo dental treatment after enduring a two-hour root canal operation.

At the advanced age of 17, he was having trouble eating his staple diet of bamboo shoots until doctors in Sichuan province came to his aid.

Two other pandas will soon be receiving the same treatment, the China Daily newspaper reports.

All live at the Chengdu Panda Base, home to more than 40 giant pandas.

Xiaopingping's dental problems first came to the attention of the base's animal hospital in September last year.

However, doctors delayed taking action because they did not want to disturb the pandas during the mating season, hospital head Wang Chengdong told the paper.

During Thursday's operation, they put fillings in three of the panda's teeth that had become damaged with age.

Another panda, 18-year-old Bobo, has had two of his teeth disinfected in preparation for the same procedure, while a third has been found to have a similar problem and will soon be treated.

There are believed to be about 1,750 giant pandas left in China, but the threat to the animals' survival has receded, thanks to efforts to protect their bamboo forest habitat.


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