Zoo Watch: Vets get stuck in to analyse rhino’s ovaries

PUBLISHED: 11:50 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 29 May 2018

That there is a 'seeing up a rhino's bum' facial expression. Picture: ZSL.

That there is a 'seeing up a rhino's bum' facial expression. Picture: ZSL.


ZSL Whipsnade captured the moment vets went the extra mile to help treat an anesthetised 22-year-old rhino by getting shoulder-deep in her bottom.

Keepers had noticed Behan, a 22-year-old female one-horned rhino, was having irregular reproductive cycles, so they called in Robert Hermes from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin to give her an ultrasound scan.

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s veterinary officer, Fieke Molenaar said: “It’s rare for us to put a big animal like Behan under a general anaesthetic, because it can be risky for the animal, as well as for the team working with her.

“The anaesthetic we have to use on a rhino is so strong that even one drop could be lethal to humans.”

As the rhino’s reproductive organs are hidden behind so much fat, the only way they could get a look at her ovaries was by going through her bottom.

A photo taken during the ultrasound and while Behan was under. Picture: ZSL.A photo taken during the ultrasound and while Behan was under. Picture: ZSL.

While the ultrasound was ongoing, the vets also gave Behan some foot care.

Fieke continued: “The scans showed that Behan is, in fact, very healthy, and the issues with her cycle can be dealt with through regular hormone injections.

“To be reassured she is in good health is great news for all of us that work with Behan. It’s also fantastic for the European Endangered Species Programme, because we now know that, although she is an older female, it may still be possible for her to have another calf - which would be her fifth!”

Visitors can find out what it takes to be a vet at Superheroes and Villains at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, which can be booked online at www.zsl.org

Behan, the 22-year-old one-horned rhino. Picture: ZSL.Behan, the 22-year-old one-horned rhino. Picture: ZSL.


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