On Tuesday morning, keepers noted 19-year-old white rhinoceros Kibibi appeared lethargic and uninterested in food, and was defecating less than usual. Soon after, a liquid that appeared to be stomach contents began pouring out of Kibibi’s nostrils.
Veterinarian Dr. Trevor Zachariah arrived for a closer look. We drew blood from Kibibi for testing and provided her with medications for pain and gut spasms. Kibibi was separated from the other animals overnight so we could keep track of how much she ate and defecated.
Yesterday we sedated Kibibi to administer fluids and medication, and collect urine and additional blood samples for further testing. With the assistance of local equine veterinarian Dr. Bradley Newman (whose expertise was critical because horses and rhinos are odd-toed ungulates with comparable digestive systems), our veterinary team used a specialized camera called an endoscope to look for a blockage in her digestive system and suspected a mass of food was trapped in her esophagus.
Fortunately, Dr. Newman was able to flush the esophagus with a nasogastric tube. As of this morning, Kibibi’s nasal discharge has abated and she is more energetic than she was on Tuesday. She was not given food overnight to avoid further irritation to her esophagus, but she has access to food this morning and we are waiting to see how much she’ll eat.
We’re doing everything we can for Kibibi, but we remain guarded about her health. We will continue to provide fluids and medication while keeping a close eye on the aforementioned areas of concern. Updates will be posted here when available.
July 15 update: Kibibi appears to be feeling better. Her appetite has improved, the nasal discharge has stopped and she has been taken off medication. However, she is still not defecating regularly. We appreciate your continued outpouring of support and well-wishes!