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The average toothbrush won't do when the teeth that need brushing belong to a hippopotamus. So zookeepers at the London Zoo built giant brushes for their two pygmy hippopotamuses, a species of small hippos.

Zookeepers previously used ordinary brooms to brush the hippos' teeth. But last summer, they updated the tools with 1.5 meter (5 foot)-long toothbrushes.

Like all animals, hippos can get cavities and gum disease when food sticks to their teeth. That's why even wild hippos by to keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy. They use their tusklike canine teeth to strip bark from trees, which acts as "hippo dental floss."

The zoo's hippos seem to enjoy the new brushing routine, says Tracey Lee, one of the zookeepers: "They really chill out when they're having it done."
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Author:Hoff, Mary
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 9, 2006
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