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SOS Rhino : In the News : Current Rhino News : Zoo's 4,000-pound rhino fighting cancer

Zoo's 4,000-pound rhino fighting cancer

  Sara Thorson
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 2, 2002 12:00 AM

PHOENIX - One of the oldest white rhinos in captivity is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer at the Phoenix Zoo.

Zoo officials announced this week that Khetla, a 41-year-old, 4,000-pound male white rhinoceros, has a cancer of the connective tissues called myxosarcoma.

After testing a sore on Khetla's right front leg in March, zookeepers discovered the cancer. They began administering aggressive chemotherapy treatments to the leg sore last week. Myxosarcoma doesn't spread easily to other organs, but it is invasive and difficult to remove.

Aimee Barwegen, spokeswoman for the zoo, said that so far the rhinoceros is cooperating with veterinarians during his treatment.

"He's actually tolerating that process really well," she said. "He stays in place while the treatment is being administered."

Khetla is now on exhibit, with his leg bandaged, for three to five hours a day.

Barwegen added that zookeepers had hoped to see faster improvement in Khetla's condition, but will continue to monitor him for the next few weeks before making any decisions about further treatment. She said zoo members have been supportive of the long-time zoo resident.

"We've gotten some sweet drawings from kids and some get-well-soon cards," Barwegen said.

Khetla came to the zoo in 1963 and has fathered four rhino offspring during his time in Phoenix. White rhinos typically live for about 30 years in the wild. The white rhino is classified as a threatened species because it has been hunted for years for its prized horn.



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