Down to Earth

San Diego Zoo Helps Rhino with Broken Toe

It took a team of 40 veterinarians and animal care specialists to fit the 4,500-pound animal with a cast for his broken toe

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Maoto, a Southern White Rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is now on the road to recovery after suffering a broken toe. But it took a village to get him back on his feet.

Last month, animal care specialists noticed Maoto was not putting weight on his front left foot. An exam and series of X-rays showed the 4,500-pound animal had a broken toe.

On Dec. 19, a team of 40 veterinarians and animal care specialists worked together to fit Maoto with a custom made cast to support his foot and promote proper healing. The team used car tire thread to create the special boot to be placed over the cast that would not crack under the rhino's body.

The procedure was done at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Maoto was anesthetized while the team worked.

And, through it all, the Southern White Rhino has been a trooper.

“During the past six weeks, Maoto has been able to move around easily and still maintain a positive demeanor through the entire process," lead zookeeper Jonnie Caprio explained. 

Maoto is the father of Edward, a Southern White Rhino calf born at the Safari Park in July.

Senior veterinarian for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Dr. Jeff Zuba expects Maoto's recovery to take about four to five months.

According to the zoo, there are an estimated 18,000 Southern White Rhinos remaining in the wild. The Southern White Rhino is classified as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Maoto is an important contributor to the San Diego Zoo Global's ongoing efforts to help save the endangered rhino species from extinction.

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