Who’s had a colonoscopy? Bit of a bummer, hey? Although they’re normally done whilst you’re under general anaesthetic, Memphis the rhino recently had one whilst awake and munching happily on his favourite foods!  

Perth Zoo’s veterinary team have successfully removed a potentially cancerous rectal polyp from resident rhino Memphis. 

The 34-year-old Southern White Rhino was booked in for the delicate procedure after keepers noticed some blood around his rectum as well as some protruding tissues, which indicated a potentially sinister medical issue that required further investigation. 

Following extensive consultation, vets determined Memphis had a rectal polyp which would need to be removed and tested for any traces of cancer.

Perth Zoo Veterinarian Dr Sarah Alexander said: “Keepers were able to train Memphis to feel comfortable enough that he allowed us to have a feel of the polyp, and we could even pull it outwards to get a better look. 

“We managed the take some samples and suspected it was benign, but as polyps can turn cancerous, we wanted to remove it entirely and have it tested.”

The careful removal procedure was performed using only local anaesthetic, ensuring Memphis felt no pain and was able to stand in his crush and enjoy a bunch of delicious snacks while the vets went to work. 

Weighing it at around 2.1 tonnes, performing a delicate procedure that is safe for both the rhino and humans involved is certainly no mean feat. 

But thanks to the excellent husbandry work of our dedicated keeping staff, this procedure went off without a hitch!

Memphis was walked into a secure area and was fed all of his favourite treats while keepers distracted him from the medical activity happening at his rear. 
“The procedure went very well, it’s quite amazing that Memphis allowed us to perform it with just local anaesthetic rather than needing a sedation,” Dr Sarah said. 

“The procedure’s success really is a testament to the dedication of our zookeepers and veterinary teams  – a lot of work was put into forming trusting relationships and helping Memphis become used to medical attention. 

“This sort of ongoing husbandry work ensures that we can provide gold standard veterinary care to our animals, whether that means checking their teeth, drawing blood, or in Memphis’ case, exteriorising and removing a rectal polyp!”

Equine veterinarians from The Animal Hospital at Murdoch University attended and provided their expertise and specialist equipment to remove the polyp.

Once the procedure was completed, Murdoch vets performed a colonoscopy to examine the surrounding tissue, checking for other masses or abnormalities and Memphis was given a clean bill of health. 

“We were really pleased to find that Memphis had no other masses or abnormalities found, and tests revealed the polyp was benign,” Dr Sarah said. 

This visit from the vet for Memphis has served as a stark reminder for humans to follow in his giant footsteps and get their own health checks in order. 

Much like for celery-munching Memphis, early detection of potentially cancerous polyps is the most effective way to catch them before they turn into something more menacing. 

Take this as your reminder to book yourself and your loved ones in for a health screening to detect for early signs of bowel and colon cancer.