Zoo’s rare white rhino returns to exhibit in better health

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Nola, an elderly northern white rhino, underwent a veterinary exam at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Dec. 29, 2014. (San Diego Zoo)

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SAN DIEGO — A northern white rhinoceros at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park — one of five remaining members of the species — is doing better after being placed under veterinary supervision almost two weeks ago, park officials said Thursday.

On Dec. 27, keepers noticed that Nola had a thick nasal discharge and that her appetite and activity levels were reduced, so they gave her antibiotics for a sinus infection and monitored the 40-year-old rhino in a veterinary area of the park.

Nola was returned to her 65-acre habitat Thursday and was greeted by her companion, Chuck, a 45-year-old male southern white rhino.

“The reintroduction of Nola and Chuck went as expected — they briefly squabbled to establish dominance, but quickly settled down and seem to be enjoying each other’s company,” said Jane Kennedy, lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

“We will continue to monitor Nola, and in the event of extremely cold weather, heavy rain or medical issues, we will move her back into the (enclosure) where she can stay warm and we can administer extra care,” Kennedy said.

Nola’s illness came almost two weeks after Angalifu, another elderly northern white rhino at the park in northern San Diego County, died at the age of 44.

Three of the remaining members of the species are at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. They are all at an advanced age and have not been able to breed, according to the Safari Park.

Conservation groups blame the low numbers of the species on poaching for its horn.

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