Rhino Scoping

How many people does it take to work on a rhinoceros with a sinus infection?  If you guessed over 20, you’re correct.

Our male rhino, Jello, has developed a sinus infection.  We’ve been doing the usual treatments such as flushing out his nose and giving him large amounts of antibiotics. The medications haven’t been as effective as we would have liked though, so we decided to anesthetize him to figure out exactly what’s going on.

To do this, we had a diverse team including veterinarians from Michigan State University, technicians and Lansing Fire Department Station 9 come to PPZ. We started by anesthetizing Jello. Then, the Fire Department assisted with the jaws of life, using them to open the rhino’s very heavy mouth so we could intubate him (place a tube in his trachea so he could breathe during the procedure).

Vets from MSU College of Veterinary Medicine then assisted us with an endoscope so we could see if Jello truly had a sinus infection, or something else like a bad tooth.  We used the scope with a camera to see into the passageways and discovered that there was some hay up in there as well as a pretty intense sinus infection.  We flushed his nose from the inside out this time, and took a sample to see what type of bacteria is causing the infection.

While he was sleeping we also took samples of his blood, trimmed his hooves, did an ultrasound on his abdomen, took an x-ray of his head, and trimmed (or “floated”) his teeth. All of this was done in just over an hour, simultaneously in a well-orchestrated manner to minimize the anesthesia time for the rhino.  That’s why there were over 20 people there to help!

Why the rush?  To minimize the risk of complications that can be caused by such a large animal lying on one side for too long. Jello woke up and was walking around less than 3 minutes after we gave him the anti-anesthesia medication! He’ll remain on meds for his infection for a while.

We couldn’t have done this without the great help of the Lansing Fire Department Station 9 and MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. They rock.

Black Rhino Exam at Potter Park Zoo

Black Rhino Exam at Potter Park Zoo