News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
April 23, 2018
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
NOTE: Images may be downloaded below
 
Black Rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo Undergoes Portable CT Scan
Procedure Required a Custom-Made Platform, a Front-End Loader, and a Dedicated Team
 
     Brookfield, Ill. – On April 19, Layla, a 7½ -year-old, 2,300-pound eastern black rhinoceros who lives at Brookfield Zoo, underwent what is believed to be the first CT (computed tomography) scan ever performed on this species. The scan was necessary to help Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) veterinarians determine the next steps for treating a known obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway. Layla was too large to move inside the zoo's animal hospital, where the zoo's CT scanner is located, so staff brought a CT scanner to Layla’s habitat instead. NeuroLogica, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, generously donated the use of its BodyTom®, the world’s first battery-powered, portable, 32-slice CT scanner, for the procedure. The process of moving Layla to and from the machine was extraordinarily delicate and required the presence and precision of a team of nearly 40 dedicated zoo staff, as well as technicians from NeuroLogica and Sound Technologies, who donated their services to set up and operate the CT machine.

“The CT scan provided diagnostic results that we could not have otherwise obtained,” said Dr. Michael Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for CZS, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “This procedure is an example of our commitment to providing the animals in our care with the most advanced medical treatment available. More importantly, though, the CT scan on Layla has provided us an unparalleled look inside of her skull. The images we obtained will guide our future treatment plan. We are extremely grateful to NeuroLogica and Sound Technologies for their support in this critical undertaking to help Layla.”

Layla began experiencing difficulty breathing in December 2017 and was diagnosed with obstructive sinusitis. Rhinos are obligate nasal breathers, meaning it is difficult for them to breathe comfortably through their mouth for long periods. Any sort of nasal obstruction can therefore become dangerous, and after failing to respond to standard medical treatments, Layla underwent bilateral sinusotomy surgery at the zoo on January 29, 2018. Veterinarians were able to identify a bacterial infection in her nasal passageway.

For the surgery in January, CZS staff brought in Drs. Anthony Blikslager and Mathew Gerard, board-certified veterinary surgeons from North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, to assist with the procedure. The two surgeons, who have extensive knowledge related to  rhinoceroses’ skull and sinuses, have been working on developing surgical methods to help treat rhinos in Africa that have had their horns cut off by poachers. This surgery significantly improved Layla’s comfort levels and allowed staff to begin treating her infection. Over the past two months, Layla has been anesthetized on a weekly basis for intravenous antibiotic therapy and to continue debulking, or removing, infected tissue through two surgical holes created to access her sinuses.

However, despite her progress, the initial surgery was unable to identify the source or extent of the problem, and it was determined advanced imaging was needed to complete treatment. On April 19, staff got their answers—the images obtained on the CT scan have revealed abnormal tissue associated with the root of one of Layla’s upper molars. The growth of this tissue is causing the obstruction in her nasal passages and sinuses.
To prepare for the CT scan procedure, the Chicago Zoological Society’s carpenters constructed a custom-made platform. After being anesthetized and stabilized, Layla was carefully slid onto the platform and a front-end loader was used to gently move her onto the zoo's large surgical table. Animal care specialists and grounds staff then carefully moved the table to the portable CT scanner set up in the Pachyderm House. The flawless procedure was possible, in part, due to several practice runs staff had performed using 2,300 pounds of concrete to simulate Layla's weight.

Animal care staff monitored Layla closely following the procedure. She currently is comfortable in an area behind the scenes, while veterinarians are developing a plan to surgically remove the remaining abnormal tissue and to provide subsequent treatment for Layla.

Layla was born on October 18, 2010, at Kansas City Zoo in Missouri. She arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2012 on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Eastern Black Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. There are currently 59 eastern black rhinoceroses in North American zoos. This species is considered critically endangered with approximately 5,000-5,400 individuals living in the wild.

“Not only is Layla valuable to the rhinoceros population in professional care, she also plays an important role at Brookfield Zoo by raising awareness about the species and why conservation efforts are so critical,” said Amy Roberts, senior curator of mammals for CZS. “When our guests come to see Layla and our other black rhinos, we hope they will be inspired to care about these amazing animals so that future generations will be able to also appreciate them.

According to the International Rhino Foundation, in the 20th century, the black rhinoceros suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers of all rhino species. Between 1970 and 1992, the population of this species decreased by 96 percent. In 1970, it was estimated that there were approximately 65,000 black rhinos in Africa, but less than 25 years later, there were only 2,300 surviving in the wild. The black rhino population is recovering and increasing very slowly, but poaching remains a great threat.

Photo Captions (credit: Chicago Zoological Society)
2169: The Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff stabilize Layla, a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo. Once stabilized, Layla, who weighs 2,300 pounds, received a CT scan in order for veterinary staff to determine the best course of action in treating the animal’s obstructed nasal passageway.

2207: Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai, senior staff veterinarian for the Chicago Zoological Society, stabilizes Layla, a 2,300-pound eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo, prior to receiving a CT scan. The imaging from the scan was necessary in order for veterinary staff to determine a plan on how to treat an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway.

2231: A dedicated team of staff take direction from Dr. Michael Adkesson (right), vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, as they prepare to position Layla, a 2,300-pound eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo, onto a mat in preparation for her to be moved to a portable CT scan. Layla is being treated for an obstruction in her nasal passageway, and the scan will assist veterinarians in determining the best treatment plan for her.

2419: Layla, a 2,300-pound eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo, is lifted by a front-end loader, manned by Greg Wall, an assistant lead groundskeeper, and brought to a portable CT scan in the zoo’s Pachyderm House. The procedure was necessary in order for veterinary staff to determine a plan on how to treat an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway.

2457: Layla, a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo, is monitored by Chicago Zoological Society veterinary staff while she is being moved to a surgical table that can accommodate her weight. The 2,300-pound rhino was then wheeled into the zoo’s Pachyderm House, where she had a CT scan. The imaging from the scan was necessary in order for veterinary staff to determine the best course of action in treating an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway.

2467: Carrie Sapienza and Vince Valderrama, senior groundskeepers for the Chicago Zoological Society, help position Layla, a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo, onto a surgical table. The 2,300-pound rhino was then wheeled into the zoo’s Pachyderm House where she had a CT scan, which was necessary in order for veterinary staff to determine the best course of action in treating an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway.

2495: Layla, a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros is wheeled into Brookfield Zoo’s Pachyderm House, where she received, what is believed to be, the first portable CT scan ever performed on this species. The scan provided diagnostic results that will help determine the best course of action in treating an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway.

2642: Chicago Zoological Society’s Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai (left), senior staff veterinarian, and Dr. Michael Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine, monitor Layla, a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo, as she receives a CT scan of her head. The scan provided diagnostic results that will help determine the best course of action in treating an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway. NeuroLogica, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, generously donated the use of its BodyTom®, the world’s first battery-powered, portable, 32-slice CT scanner, for the procedure that took place inside the zoo’s Pachyderm House.

2717: Dr. Sathya Chinnadurai, senior staff veterinarian for the Chicago Zoological Society, monitors Layla a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros, as she receives a CT scan inside Brookfield Zoo’s Pachyderm House. The images from the scan provided diagnostic results that will help determine the best course of action in treating an obstruction in Layla’s nasal passageway. NeuroLogica, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, generously donated the use of its BodyTom®, the world’s first battery-powered, portable, 32-slice CT scanner, for the procedure. In addition, technicians from NeuroLogica and Sound Technologies donated their services to set up and operate the machine.
 
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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

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