April 7, 2003, 1:06 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A 2-ton Indian rhinoceros at the Buffalo Zoo will
be treading a little more lightly with the donation of a few truckloads
of topsoil to cushion his aching feet.
The rare rhino's foot problems have forced the zoo to halt attempts
at breeding him until he is able to endure pressure on his hind
Dr. Frank Ridgley, a zoo veterinarian, told The Buffalo News the
problem is common with rhinos in U.S. and European zoos. The rocky
soil Henry is now exposed to has caused cracks in the skin which
widen with each step. He is being treated with oral antibiotics
and daily footbaths.
In their natural habitat, rhinos spend a lot of time wallowing
in mud and water, and walk on much softer soil.
The zoo also is working with a tire maker that has offered to produce
custom-made Kevlar boots for Henry.
Zoo officials have been seeking high-quality topsoil to counter
the erosion of the limestone beds on which the zoo was built. Amherst
agreed to donate 60 cubic yards from the town's compost facility,
worth about $5,300.
Zoo President Donna Fernandez said the zoo would try to raise private
funds to buy some more.
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press