Keepers' Diaries, March 2007

Select your unit:

Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been a very tragic in the Nairobi Nursery. An enchanting little Impala fawn that came in from the Masai Mara on the 2nd March, unexpectedly died two days later, we suspect from pneumonia, having been frolicking around happily just the day before.

It has been a very tragic in the Nairobi Nursery. An enchanting little Impala fawn that came in from the Masai Mara on the 2nd March, unexpectedly died two days later, we suspect from pneumonia, having been frolicking around happily just the day before.

Then, hot on the heels of losing little Galdessa, our smallest elephant baby, Kilgoris fell ill on 8th March suffering from chronic diarrheoa and stomach pain, having been fine just the day before, the only symptom that things were going wrong being a slight loss of appetite the previous day. Since he was a water victim, we could not rule out pneumonia before the diarrheoa became evident, so he was given injectible Norodine first before the Sulphadimidine. On this occasion, unusually Sulphadimidine, Kaolin and Rice Water failed to control the diarrheoa and he rapidly weakened, refusing all milk, but desperate for water. He was put on an intravenous drip to try and keep up his strength until the laboratory results of a stool and sensitivity test were available, which identified a heavy
E Coli infestation, sensitive only to Ciprofloxacine and Gentomycin (which can cause kidney failure). We tried the Cipro, but by then it was too late, for severe ulceration of his intestinal lining had begun to cause hemorrhaging, which rapidly became worse, ulceration evident also in his mouth. He put up such a brave struggle, battling against the odds for 12 very long days, and even longer nights, as we struggled to keep him with us and deny the Angel of Death, and there were optimistic days when we thought we, and he, might have a chance, but then the dreaded symptoms worsened, blood and intestinal lining being passed in watery black stools. Eventually, we had to accept that we had lost the battle and that there was nothing more that could be done to save him. He slipped away at 4 a.m.during the small hours of the morning of the 21st, in the arms of his two favourite Keepers who had been with him throughout, leaving us all distraught.

That same afternoon Max, our blind yearling rhino calf underwent surgery on his left eye in an attempt to remove the cataract and restore at least partial vision. The Specialist and our Vet had decided to do just one eye to reduce the time he would be under anesthesia and also to determine whether or not the operation would be a success before attempting the second eye. We were warned that scar tissue and inter-ocular inflammation of animal eyes often negates the success of such interventions, and as things stand at month end, we are not too hopeful, since the eye appears to be reverting to an opaque state. However, he is having antibiotic drops as well as cortisone inserted at regular intervals throughout the day and night, and we keep our fingers crossed. At month end, the Airline Sleeping Patch that had protected the eye could be removed, and Max was allowed the luxury of a mudbath at last, which left him in high spirits. Meanwhile, we wait to see what time will reveal before making the decision as to whether or not attempt the second eye, which is also covered by cataract.

Our 5 year old orphaned rhino, Shida, has now fully recovered from the prolapsed rectum he suffered a month or two ago, and returns much more regularly to his Stockade, both for the extra rations he has been enjoying during his recovery period, but also because he is intensely interested in his neighbour in the adjoining Stockade, little Max. Max, on the other hand, can obviously detect through hearing and scent the presence next door of Shida whenever he returns, and is understandably extremely nervous, even though Shida seems peaceful enough displaying no overt signs of aggression. Magnum, our adult rhino, now fully independent and integrated into the wild rhino community of the Park, has been conspicuous by his absence for many moons now, although we have no reason to suspect that he is not alright. A ground sweep and head count of the resident rhinos of the Park is on the cards, and we will then know more about what Magnum is up to.

Apart from the disaster over baby Kilgoris, all the Nairobi orphans thrive. Lesanju is the Queen Bee of the baby set, and even though just a few months old, shows all the signs of becoming a responsible little Matriarch, punishing Shimba when he steps out of line by trying to mount little Lempaute. Lempaute is a real character and an extravert who loves showing off to any audience. Especially, she enjoys the reaction of scaring visiting African school-children during the mudbath hour, despite being just pint-sized! Shimba is now a happy and playful baby, and all three are adored by the older females, who spend the afternoons with them, and who all want to try and smother-love one for themselves. Only Lesanju resists being smother-loved by the older girls, seeking the protection of her Keepers whenever their attentions become too effusive. Makena and Sian are inseparable, Makena retaining her ear-sucking habit, which sometimes irritates Sian who tries to detach her, but ends up giving in and putting up with it! Kenze is now sufficiently strong to put Kamboyo in his place, and brooks no nonsense any more. He and Lenana share a common bond and are best friends, both still somewhat wary of human strangers. Zurura was another who caused us concern this month, showing signs of being slightly under the weather for a few days, which worried us deeply in view of what had happened to Kilgoris, but a course of broad spectrum antibiotic sorted him out and he is fine again now. He is a very gentle and sociable elephant, who deliberately walks along the cordon line at mudbath allowing all the visitors to touch him gently, and laying his trunk lovingly on the heads of any small spectators. He and Kamboyo share a Stockade, and we attempted to make them more comfortable by moving them into the two new Stables which have just been constructed. However, neither would have it, and in the end they had to be taken back to their joint Stockade, and Lesanju and Lempaute are now in the five star accommodation instead. This means that their stables along with that occupied by Kilgoris, could be well disinfected and rested as a precaution.

March 2007 day to day

01 Mar

The orphans left in a happy mood this morning, Makena swinging her trunk from side to side and running ahead, followed by Kamboyo, who wanted to climb onto her. She sought the protection of Sian, whom Kamboyo respects. In the afternoon, the bigger orphans lay down so that the little babies could climb on them. It was a very happy time