This World Rhinoceros Day, come behind the scenes to see how our animal carers go above and beyond for Memphis!
In recent months, our handsome rhino has been showing signs of being unwell. He had skin lesions, was less excited to munch down on his food and had quite an upset stomach.
A team of zoo keepers and veterinary staff have been hard at work providing him with the daily care needed to help him get back on track - that included daily treatments and plenty of TLC!
And in a rhinormous team effort, Memphis also had his very first general anaesthetic!
While under anaesthetic and with the assistance of equine veterinarians, the team reviewed Memphis’ dental health, gave his skin lesions a thorough clean and collected pathology samples for testing.
A bunch of keepers were also tasked with keeping his heavy legs moving and the blood flowing, and veterinary nurses closely monitored his vitals.
Perth Zoo Veterinarian Rebecca Vaughan-Higgins said: “It’s not often that we anaesthetise a large animal like Memphis, so we take the opportunity to conduct a thorough health examination including the collection of pathology samples and radiographs.
"That way, we can ensure we have collected as much information about his health as possible.
“We did suspect some of the skin lesions on his jaw could have been due to dental problems, and while there was a degree of dental disease which is reasonably common in older rhinos, there was no need for extractions at this stage.
“Overall, we were able to use this procedure to gather a lot of helpful information about his general health to inform our next steps in his healthcare and management plan.”
After a few weeks of monitoring, medication and specialised daily care, poor Memphis was still having tummy troubles and regular bouts of loose faeces.
“Gut health is incredibly important for overall health, and poor Memphis was still passing very loose, watery faeces,” Rebecca said.
“His son Bakari lives next door and is a very healthy rhino, so after extensive testing we collected some faecal samples from Bakari to perform a faecal transplant to boost the good bacteria in Memphis’ gut.
"This procedure was done in collaboration with human microbiome specialists at The Centre for Digestive Diseases in Sydney.
“Performing an enema on a rhino isn’t the most glamourous procedure, but we are pleased to see these regular procedures have led to improvement!”
Weighing in just under two tonnes, performing a delicate procedure like an enema 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 crush and was fed all of his favourite treats while keepers distracted him from the medical activity happening at his rear.
Overall, his health has improved greatly since this journey began, and he’s even been back to his old ways in the mud wallow!
In the wild
Here in the sanctuary of Perth Zoo, rhinos Memphis and Bakari are provided with a safe home, gold-standard medical care and plenty of delicious food and enrichment.
But life for their wild cousins is not so sweet.
Heartbreakingly, these gentle giants continue to face poaching pressure for their horns, despite it carrying no scientifically proven medicinal benefits.
To help Memphis and Bakari’s wild counterparts and many other animals, we provide support to TRAFFIC
, the wildlife trade monitoring network, helping to fight the illegal wildlife trade.
Bakari was also born through our involvement in the regionally coordinated breeding program working to ensure this incredible species remains for generations to come.
It takes a big team with even bigger hearts to look after animals just like Memphis.
We couldn’t provide this exemplary care or help support his cousins in the wild without you! You can help us continue this important work for wildlife with a generous donation.