Veterinarians at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park examine Nola, a 40-year-old northern white rhino. Photo by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A 40-year-old northern white rhino — one of only five left in the world — is under veterinary care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The elderly Nola was placed under care on Saturday after her keepers noticed she had reduced appetite and activity levels and had a thick nasal discharge.

The Safari Park’s veterinary team examined Nola, giving her an injection of antibiotics to ward off any possible infection and is awaiting results from blood work and nasal samples to determine if further medical treatment is needed.

“Today we collected samples of Nola’s nasal discharge to submit for culture to see if there is any fungus or bacteria growing, and also allowing us to look at cells to see what might be causing Nola’s illness,” stated Meredith Clancy, associate veterinarian, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “One of our main concerns is Nola’s comfort level. We will continue to monitor her round-the-clock and hope her health improves.”

Nola, who is already being treated for age-related arthritis, has been moved to a heated enclosure inside her Asian Plains field exhibit to provide her comfort from the chilly weather and allow the animal care team to keep close watch over her. Keepers report she appears to be improving slightly, eating again and gaining some mobility.

Nola is one of just five northern white rhinos left in the world. Recently, Angalifu, a 44-year-old male northern white rhino who also lived at the Safari Park, died of age-related causes. Three other northern white rhinos are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic.

The five remaining rhinos are all of an advanced age and have not been able to breed. Poaching for its horn has brought the northern white rhino to such critically low numbers.

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