K-State vets help Rolling Hills with rhino procedure

By The Mercury

K-State veterinarians helped a Salina zoo with an especially large patient earlier this month.

Rolling Hills Zoo called in the extra help to treat Milton, a two-ton, 34-year-old white rhinoceros, according to a report from the zoo.

He was immobilized so the specialists could biopsy a mass on the animal’s abdomen.

Zoo officials were assisted by Dr. James Carpenter, professor of zoological medicine; and Dr. Warren Beard, professor of equine surgery; and the team from the Veterinary Heath Center at Kansas State University.

Upon the team’s arrival, Rolling Hills Zoo veterinarian Dr. Danelle Okeson, administered anesthetics and, with the help of Rolling Hills Zoo and VHC personnel, the rhino was put in a standing position that allowed the VHC team to perform the diagnostic procedure.

The VHC team led the procedure to obtain samples of the mass, a growth larger than a human hand.

First, the mass was examined through an ultrasound to provide guidance through the rest of the procedure. Beard then extracted samples of the mass to be examined for abnormalities.

Within minutes of the completion of the procedure, the rhino was mobile and safely walking around his secured area, according to zoo officials.

“It was a combination of great planning and organizing by Dr. Okeson and the Rolling Hills Zoo team, terrific assistance in diagnostics by Dr. Beard and the equine team, and great collaboration by the students on the zoological medicine clinical rotation. Everything was done safely. Everything was accomplished that we had planned, and it was a great and memorable experience,” Carpenter said.

The preliminary diagnosis is the mass is an epidermal hyperplasia similar to a callous.

The samples will be submitted to KSVDL for examination.

The white rhinoceros, native to Africa, is one of five species of rhinos, all endangered, and is actually closely related to the horse.

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