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Metal Detector Discovers Zoo Rhino Was Shot and Nearly Killed by Poachers

A white rhino at the San Diego Zoo named Wallis nearly didn’t make it to her new home.

Wallis had come from South Africa when the southern white rhino arrived at the zoo in November 2015. Zoo staff noticed there was an injury near her heart that wouldn’t heal, which meant she had probably been shot at some point before she was brought over.

The zoo brought in the help of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Bomb Squad and their extremely powerful metal detector to get a better grasp on the situation and determine if there was indeed a bullet lodged in the rhino. It turned out there was something inside the 5-year-old, 3,000 pound animal that was keeping her from healing properly.

Fortunately for Wallis, she didn’t need the exploratory surgery the zoo thought she might. They discovered that the bullet fragment had worked it’s way back to the wound while preparing for surgery.

Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Jim Oosterhuis was called in to remove it.

“I reached into the wound with my Leatherman tool, grasped the object, made a quick jerking motion, and out popped the bullet fragment with jagged edges,” Oosterhuis said. “It feels great to know that we finally have found what we believe to be the source of her infection. By having the fragment work itself out, it eliminated the need for surgery.”

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