And with a new set of teeth to boot!
If you saw Johnny in 2019, you would not recognize him as he is now. You would think that he’s a different dolphin altogether. Rescued from years of being held captive and forced to perform for human entertainment, Johnny was severely underweight, injured on his right pectoral fin and all of his teeth were worn out below the gum line. Fast forward to now, Johnny is a picture of good health and vigor.
Johnny’s Road to Recovery
3 years of diligent caring and nurturing at the Umah Lumba Rehabilitation, Release and Retirement Center, and Johnny regained his weight, confidence and playfulness. Together with Rocky and Rambo, who are also rescued dolphins, this pod of dolphins spends the days diving and swimming and just exploring the underwater world, as dolphins should.
Roadblock to Releasing Johnny
Although Johnny is a picture of health and vitality and for years had been a candidate for release, his teeth (or lack of it) was a huge concern. Because his teeth were worn to the gum line, he is not able to catch fish. The fish slips through his bite. Johnny is the leader of his pod. Releasing Rambo and Rocky without him will be disadvantageous to the 2 and leaving Johnny behind, all alone, is also not an option. And this dire situation got the Dolphin Project team busy thinking about how to get over this hurdle. And they came up with a brilliant and creative solution.
A Revolutionary Dental Procedure
The solution? Artificial crowns! This procedure has never been done before and with dolphin dentistry still at its early age, it took 18 months of planning and consultation with dentists and veterinarians all over the world with Dr. Paolo Martelli at the helm of this project. Dr Martelli has performed a number of dolphin dentistry procedures since 2009 and with months of discussions and consultations, they came up with the first-ever technique to give Johnny his new set of teeth.
Johnny’s full bloodwork and comprehensive set of x-rays showed that his teeth were suited to undergo this revolutionary dental procedure. Dr Martelli supervised the procedure while Dolphin Project’s staff veterinarian Dr. Deny Rahmadani took care of placing a total of 22 artificial crowns in Johnny’s mouth, 14 at the bottom jaw and 8 on Johnny’s upper jaw . This procedure was done over a period of 3 days. Johnny did not feel any pain during the procedure and no sedation nor restraints were used. In fact, Johnny would swim right back up after a new tooth was placed, and open his mouth, ready for the next tooth. His new crowns were made from very high quality materials and will last a very long time, and should even outlive Johnny.
New Teeth, New Life
With a new set of teeth, Johnny is now able to catch fish. And he has been given the green light for release. Together with Rocky and Rambo, Johnny will be released this summer. A whole new adventure awaits this trio of dolphins.
If you want to help other rescued dolphins like Johnny, check out our Dolphin Legend Bracelet.