The Associated Press (12/20/2007)
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An infection is threatening the life of a rhinoceros housed at the city's Potter Park Zoo.
Ebony, a 14-year-old eastern black rhino that weighs 2,500 pounds, has a strep bacterium that has entrenched itself in each of her feet. Black rhinos are an endangered species, and there are only about 3,700 worldwide, according to the International Rhino Foundation.
"When you're this big, you need all four feet," zoo veterinarian Tara Harrison told the Lansing State Journal.
Ebony has undergone five surgeries to remove infected tissue since May. Another surgery is scheduled for January.
At one point, Harrison thought Ebony would have to be euthanized. But her condition has improved since one of her toes was amputated Dec. 4.
Ebony's survival could be important because genes from the captive rhino population might be needed in the future for introduction into the wild.
Ebony's medical care costs Potter Park Zoo about $1,000 a month. She's being treated with iodine soaks, vitamin supplements, pain killers, topical creams, surgically implanted antibiotic beads, intravenous drugs, vacuum suction of infected areas and additional surgeries.
Pain causes her to put too much weight on one foot or another. She walks mostly on her heels, keeping her from wearing down her toe nails.
The result has been overgrown nails. A goal of the January surgery will be to clip the nails.