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Safari Park vets puzzled by endangered white rhino’s ailments

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Nola, a rare northern white rhino, roams around her habitat. (San Diego Zoo Safari Park)

SAN DIEGO – The worrisome news from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Veterinarians are unsure why Nola, one of only four northern white rhinos in the world, has a recurring abscess on her hip.

“At this point, we simply don’t know,” said Jim Oosterhuis, principal veterinarian at the park.

At 41, Nola is geriatric and has a series of old-age ailments, including arthritis.

In December, Nola had a severe sinus condition. And then earlier this month, she underwent a procedure for an abscess. The abscess was drained, samples were taken for tests, and Nola was put on antibiotics.

But last week, Nola had to undergo a second procedure on the abscess. More skin and blood samples were taken for testing, more antibiotics were prescribed.

The abscess is sore to the touch, but otherwise Nola, who weighs 4,500 pounds, has energy and is eating regularly, zookeepers said.

In December, the park’s male northern white rhino, Angalifu, considered to be 45, died of cancer.

The world’s other white rhinos – all also geriatric – are in a preserve in Kenya.

At the Safari Park, Nola remains in the spacious exhibit, which she shares with other species of rhinos and water buffalo.

Her longtime companion, Chuck, a southern white rhino, is being kept, at least temporarily, in the small hut for rhinos, called a boma. Chuck has long been interested in mating, but even in their younger years Nola was not interested.

Read the full story at Los Angeles Times

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