Thursday 19 April 2018

This is no drill. Rhino with toothache proves unusual call-out for firefighters

Indian rhino Bertus, from Edinburgh Zoo, had a tooth operation (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service/PA)
Indian rhino Bertus, from Edinburgh Zoo, had a tooth operation (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service/PA)
The fire crew assisted work to move rhino Bertus into position for his operation (Scottish Fire and Rescue Service/PA Wire)

A crew of firefighters have answered one of their strangest ever calls - helping vets treat a two-tonne rhinoceros with toothache.

The team, who are more used to overseeing the lifting of heavy vehicles or debris from collapsed buildings, were brought in to Edinburgh Zoo to help move the massive animal before an operation could take place.

Eight-year-old Bertus was medicated by vets, then firefighters had to work out how to winch the greater one-horned Indian rhino into a safe position for zoo staff to work.

The crew from Newcraighall fire station in Edinburgh described it as "one of the strangest special services" they have ever completed.

Bertus has now made a full recovery from the procedure earlier this month and is eating comfortably, staff said.

Newcraighall station manager Willie Pollard said: "Being requested to support Edinburgh Zoo in the moving of their rhinoceros is one of the strangest special services I have undertaken.

"The task of safely moving an animal of this size clearly presents a number of challenges.

"But by jointly working with zoo staff, we were able to formulate a plan which involved winching and pulling equipment, using techniques normally used for either road traffic collisions involving heavy vehicles or in the event of a building collapse.

"These techniques allowed us to reposition the animal, thereby creating a safe working space for the dental team to repair the tooth."

Simon Girling, head vet at the zoo, said: "We are incredibly grateful for the help of the fire and rescue crew.

"Bertus's operation was a great success and even though it was a minor tooth operation, it involved a massive team of people all working together to ensure the operation went smoothly."

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