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Expert dental team to extract elephant's tooth

Ali was previously a resident of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Animal Care staff at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) are preparing to extract the infected tusk of 29-year-old African elephant, Ali.

The surgery is a major undertaking, involving experts from across the country who will collaborate in the procedure. 

Elephant tusks are specialized teeth, and several years ago Ali put a small crack in his tusk, JZG said.

"Over time, he developed a dental infection that keepers and Animal Health staff had been successfully treating, but his infection recently worsened, and the time has come to take further action," JZG said. "The team intends to extract the tusk. If extraction is unsuccessful, then the tusk will be cleaned and drilled similar to how a root canal procedure would be performed." 

If left untreated, his infection could spread to other parts of his body. 

The complex surgery will be overseen by Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ veterinarians and will include specialists from as far as San Diego and the United Kingdom. 

Ali arrived at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in 1997. He was previously a resident of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

Ali is the only bull elephant at Jacksonville Zoo and is joined by two older females, Thandi and Sheena. 

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in communications.