Brookfield Zoo Black Rhino gets innovative nasal surgery

Chicago (WLS) -- Layla Rhino isn't new to being first.

"She's the first adult rhino to receive a CT scan, the surgical procedures we've done with her have also been first of her kind," said Dr. Mike Adkesson, Chicago Zoological Society Vice President of Clinical Medicine.

Now, Layla is the first Black Rhino to have a life-changing surgery that will fix her nasal passages, but it's no regular rhinoplasty.

"We are doing a very innovative procedure today to place a medical implant into her sinuses that we hope will open and restore her ability to have normal airflow moving from her nasal passage ways and correct this problem that we've had for over a year now," Dr. Adkesson said.

Layla had tissue building up in her nasal cavity, making it hard for her to breathe.

"Rhinos are what we call an obligate nasal breather, so very similar to a horse, it's very difficult for them to breathe through their mouth for sustained periods of times," Dr. Adkesson said. "It's very exhausting and just difficult for them to function normally."

Doctors were hoping to put a custom made bio medic implant into Layla's sinus area.

"This will basically go into the back of her nasal passage ways and open up that tissue that we've been dealing with that's been blocking her ability to move air normally," added Dr. Adkesson.

Layla already had a temporary plastic tube in place of the titanium implant, so doctors planned to swap the plastic tube, for the real one.

The surgery was anticipated to last six hours, but doctors had difficulty maneuvering around the scar tissue Layla had under her horns. So, the surgery is on pause until doctors can figure out what to do next.

But breathe easy, ABC 7 will let you know when Layla is up and moving again.
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