NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – “Winsol” was the first aardvark ever at the Nashville Zoo, and you may have seen him at zoo events and “meet and greets” along the trail. Aardvarks, unlike anteaters (that have no teeth), have molars. and one of Winsol’s molars got out of line.

“He had started having swelling over his face and was pawing at his face and off food a little bit,” explained Dr. Heather Schwartz, Nashville Zoo Director of Veterinarian Medicine.

Dr. Schwartz continued, “So, we did some survey radiographs to see if something was going on. And then, sure enough, he had a tooth located in his sinuses. So, that was not normal. We knew that he needed further care. So, I contacted a good friend and colleague, Dr. Cushing at UT Knoxville. He oversees their student program for exotics, as well as the zoo program in Knoxville.”

They took Winsol over to UT to get everything lined up. “We did a CT of his head, determined where the tooth was located, how we needed to approach it. And Dr. Chad Lothamer who is a veterinarian dentist at UTCVM (UT College of Veterinary Medicine) went in and did the surgery. So, he actually went and opened his sinuses over his left nostril and extracted that tooth. And so, now he’s just got skin over that and it will take a little while to heal. a And so, he’s living up here with us for now. But he’s doing really well.”

And as soon as he is well, Winsol has got a sweetheart waiting for him! Her name is Karanga.

Courtesy Nashville Zoo

“As soon as he’s healed and we feel like his incision is where we want it, and he’s doing well and eating his medications and everything else, then, he’s going to go back to his home where he just got a new girlfriend from Disney,” Dr. Schwartz said. “So, she just came in, and of course, this happened. But hopefully, they get to have babies in the future.”

And those babies will be part of a plan to continue the species.

“Our aardvarks are part of the SSP, which is a species survival plan. And they were matched like genetically to be the best match for the United States in our breeding programs within all of our AZA zoos. So, the hope is that they make babies, and then they are able to go on and be future breeders at other zoos.”

All to keep the species going, so aardvarks can be seen by generations to come at zoos around the country.