VET Peter Southerden has operated on thousands of cats during his 28 year career.

But a recent operation proved a slightly bigger task than usual as the cat in question had 13cm long teeth, a mane and a roar that matched the sound of an underground train.

Peter was called in to operate on Kamal, one of Bristol Zoo’s male lions, who had a broken tooth and was unable to chew on bones.

Peter, who trained as a vet at Liverpool University before completing a five-year specialist course near Southampton, was joined by the dental team at Eastcott Vets where he works, to carry out the operation.

He said: “I was so privileged to operate on the lion, it was absolutely fantastic.

“I have never done it before, most of my work is with cats and dogs and a lion doesn’t come along very often.

“I wish it did though, I’d like to operate on any animals at the zoo.

“In terms of its anatomy, it was similar to a cat, but it was an awful lot bigger.

“It was quite odd really because it is just an enormous beast and everything is just proportionately larger than a cat, even the shape of its teeth are the same as a domestic cat.”

To carry out the 90-minute operation, specialist equipment was ordered in and a decision was made as to whether or not the tooth would be extracted or root canal work would be performed.

Peter said: “Files are normally used to clean out the middle of the tooth. For a domestic cat the file would be about 20mm long but for a lion it needed to be 120mm long.

“If we had extracted the tooth it would have been a very big job.”

Within two-and-a-half hours, Kamal began to awaken, which Peter described as amazing.

“When he was sedated he looked so cuddly, it is the only time you can get near to them really,” he said.

“But when he came round it was just amazing. He rumbled, he didn’t roar, he made this noise which was so loud, a bit like when you are waiting for a train on the underground and one arrives on the next station.

“The last I heard he was doing very well, so I am very pleased indeed.”