By Jason Song
Los Angeles Times
January 29, 2001
The rare black rhinoceros that died earlier this month at the
Los Angeles Zoo may have had tuberculosis, officials said Friday.
Tests conducted after the 24-year-old female, known as Sweet Pea,
was euthanized Jan. 12 showed signs of the bacterial disease. Officials
are unsure what type of tuberculosis--human, bovine, or another
variety--the animal had.
Only human and bovine forms of the disease pose a risk to humans.
There is little danger that Sweet Pea, who had been in ill health
for several years and had contracted tuberculosis once before, gave
the disease to other animals or humans, said Janna Wynne, a zoo
veterinarian. The rhino had not been on public display since 1998.
Zoo employees who came into contact with Sweet Pea, who was named
for her gentle demeanor and who allowed handlers to feed her by
hand, wore protective clothing and have been tested twice a year
for the disease.
Bacterial pneumonia, anemia, and iron overload also contributed
to Sweet Pea's death, test results show.
A male black rhino that interacted with Sweet Pea is being held
in a private pen away from visitors and is being tested for tuberculosis.
A female, Shebani remains on display.