An update on Lion’s Den 28 May 2014

On what felt like the first sunny day we’ve had in a week, our veterinary team gathered on our premises once again to check up on Lion’s Den, the larger of our two ‘survivor’ rhinos. While the younger cow, Dingle Dell’s wound is healed, Lion’s Den’s wound still requires some attention. The occasion felt extra special due to the fact that the Carte Blanche team would be joining us.

Lion’s Den was darted quickly, and went down in an open area. The team gathered and began the treatment process.

Firstly, the metal lid was removed, with the help of Carte Blanche anchor Derek Watts. After this, a radiograph was taken of the rhino’s nasal area, in order to see what effect the constant insertion of screws has had on the facial bone.

Dr Steenkamp injected a local anaesthetic around the wound area in order to decrease the rhino’s sensitivity to the wound as we worked on it. This is also known as an intra-orbital nerve block. The rhino was also given a pain killer.

The cast was completely removed to reveal the healing wound underneath. To everyone’s relief, Lion’s Den’s wound seemed to be improving, if only slightly. The central portion of the wound that has not yet healed had decreased in size – leaving only a small open wound. The remainder was, however, a concern to Dr Rogers, as there was still an excess granulation tissue build-up that was hindering the healing process.

The wound was rinsed clean with water.

The excess granulation tissue had to be removed in order to allow for the healing tissue to grow. The tissue is rich in blood but has no nerve supply, so Lion’s Den felt nothing as Dr Rogers removed the tissue.

Once this tissue was removed, a wad of calcium alginate, which promotes the growth of healthy granulation tissue, was applied to the wound. The cast was applied over this. The team applied layers of the plaster cast until it formed a thick layer, which was fastened in place with a few screws. A metal plate was placed over this, forming a lid that will protect the cast from damage. Further screws were drilled in place to fix the metal plate.

“Two or three more treatments and I think it should be closed,” said Dr Rogers. We really hope that this is the case!

Once the area was cleared, Lion’s Den was woken up and she quickly joined her partner, Dingle Dell.