Alfred to Undergo X-Rays

Alfred, the Zoo’s 48-year-old White rhino is set to receive x-rays this week to decide next steps in his medical treatment and recovery. Virginia Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Amanda Guthrie and the animal care staff will perform the x-rays in his indoor stall where he is most comfortable.

The process will involve sedating the elderly rhino for his comfort and for the safety of the animal care staff. The team will perform diagnostic tests, including radiographs, blood work, possibly an ultrasound to look for fluid in his leg and a full physical exam.

The exam could find an abscess in which Dr. Guthrie would treat with a course of antibiotics. However, it could be a more serious condition, or even cancer.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing more bad days than good,” said Dr. Guthrie.  “His quality of life and welfare are our top priority. We need to understand what’s happening with Alfred so we can determine the most appropriate and humane course of action for him,” added Guthrie.

The veterinary and animal care staff has been treating his osteoarthritis for several months, but his condition begin to deteriorate two weeks ago.  After undergoing several courses of cold-water hydrotherapy with a combination of pain medications and antibiotics, Alfred’s condition improved for only a few days.

“It is extremely common to see degenerative, age-related diseases in an animal of Alfred’s age,” said Dr. Guthrie. Alfred is one of the oldest White rhinos in captivity at the age of 48. “You have to decide when the pain is just too much and the quality of the animal’s life is compromised. It’s certainly the hardest decision to make as an animal care giver.”

  Keep checking back with the Zoo on our blog and social media for updated information on Alfred and his condition.