When the announcement hit the Lansing region that Potter Park Zoo’s critically endangered black rhino Doppsee’s pregnancy had taken, the entire community was excited for her. Zookeepers have announced that her pregnancy appears to be progressing well.
Before zookeepers could introduce Doppsee and Phineas for breeding, they had to collect a variety of samples to monitor her hormone levels. This allowed the zookeepers to determine when she was in estrus and when the optimal time would be to put the two rhinos together. This included fecal, urine and blood samples. Unlike fecal and urine samples, blood samples required trained behaviors.
Zookeepers have worked with Doppsee since her arrival on a variety of training behaviors that they are now utilizing for monitoring the pregnancy. Doppsee has blood drawn once a week and to monitor her hormone levels. According to Kim Hernandez, Potter Park Zoo hoofstock lead keeper, the training has proven very helpful with ultrasound training.
As a way to help train Doppsee for a transabdominal ultrasound, zookeepers began desensitizing the rhino to the ultrasound machine by using a fake one for a short time.
According to Hernandez, zookeepers used a cart with a cardboard box on it that they would place next to her for her daily training session. As Doppsee started to become more comfortable with it, veterinary staff started to work with her with the actual machine. She is and continues to respond positively to being touched, so transitioning to using the ultrasound wand on her was fairly easy.
Stay tuned to Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine for more updates on Doppsee and other happenings in the Lansing area.