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San Diego Safari Park Staff Find Bullet In White Rhino

San Diego Zoo Safari Park veterinarian Jim Oosterhuis holds up a bullet he removed from Wallis, a southern white rhino, Dec. 17, 2016.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego Zoo Safari Park veterinarian Jim Oosterhuis holds up a bullet he removed from Wallis, a southern white rhino, Dec. 17, 2016.

Wallis, a southern white rhino living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, finally has a bullet-free hide.

Veterinarians at the park had long suspected a stray bullet was giving Wallis infections, and on Saturday they found the bullet and removed it.

During an exam of the 5-and-a-half-year-old rhino, they noticed a tiny, hard, black object.

Related: San Diego Zoo Works To Save Northern White Rhino

"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," said veterinarian Jim Oosterhuis in a press release from the Safari Park. "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."

Wallis, a southern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, appears in this undated photo.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Wallis, a southern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, appears in this undated photo.

Wallis had a skin wound when she first came to the Safari Park in November 2015. Veterinarians treated the wound, but it wouldn't heal, so they did minor surgery to examine and clean the area. Still, Wallis's wound remained, so they did another surgery and used a metal detector, making them pretty sure it was caused by a brass or lead object that was still stuck under her skin.

"It’s a great feeling for me—and all the veterinarians and keepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—to care for and help this rhino recover," Oosterhuis said in the press release. "The bullet fragment appeared to be lodged under her rib—and every time she moved, the rough, jagged edges were irritating the tissue. Since removing the fragment, the wound is healing rapidly, and I expect it to be completely healed in a week."

Safari Park staff suspect Wallis was the target of a failed poaching attempt.

She is one of six female rhinos brought to the Safari Park from private reserves in South Africa in November 2015.

San Diego Safari Park Staff Find Bullet In White Rhino

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