By Nicky Burridge, PA News
Press Association Newsfile
June 28, 2000
- A rare white rhinoceros which suffers from rheumatism has been
fitted with a copper necklace and bracelet to ease its pain.
Thelma, a 30-year-old southern white rhino, has been suffering
from the condition for almost a year following an over-amorous approach
to mate by a bull rhino called Winston.
Thelma, weighing in at 2.5 tonnes, developed the condition in her
shoulder and foot after being injured in her encounter with three
After traditional medical treatments failed to work staff at Longleat
Safari Park in Wiltshire decided to try an alternative approach.
Head warden Keith Harris said: "I had heard about copper neck
chains being used to treat horses with arthritis and thought that
if that works for them, there's no reason why it shouldn't also
be able to help rhinos.
"We found a Dorset-based firm that specialised in using copper
to treat rheumatism and arthritis and explained the situation."
The firm, Forbes Copper, which has been treating horses, dogs and
other animals with copper for more than 30 years, designed the jewellery
specially for Thelma so that it would survive close contact with
her three companions Gin Gin, Babs and Winston.
Spokesman David Clayton said: "This is definitely the most
unusual request we have had to deal with so far but we were delighted
to get involved and have every hope that Thelma's new jewellery
will help relieve her symptoms."
The new treatment seems to be working, as Thelma's keeper has reported
that she is now walking more easily.
Southern white rhinos are becoming increasing rare in the wild
as a result of poaching, and it is estimated that there are now
only 8,000 worldwide.