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Zoo finds cause of the rhino’s problems: a bullet

The wounded rhino.

(San Diego Zoo)

A resident in the San Diego Zoo came a few inches to a victim of poaching, in place of a part of a protected program.

Zoo authorities say that after the southern white rhino Wallis came to the zoo from South Africa in November 2015, evidence including a wound near her heart that would not heal led them to believe that the 5-year-old woman would have shot at a certain point, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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With the help of a very powerful metal detector brought to you by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Bomb Squad, the zoo confirmed that there is metal in the 3,000-pound animal.


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The bullet fragment removed from the rhino.

(San Diego Zoo)

Keepers were preparing for Wallis for an exploratory surgery when they discovered that a bullet fragment had worked its way back to the wound, so she called the zoo veterinarian Dr. Jim Oosterhuis about to remove it.

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“I came into the wound with my leatherman tool, including the object, made a quick shaking movement, and shot the bullet fragment with jagged edges,” Oosterhuis said in a zoo press release. “It feels great to know that we finally have found what we believe to be the source of her infection. By having the fragment of the work ourselves, eliminating the need for surgery.”

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