Puntung gains 4kg with better appetite


Back to form: Puntung having her meal while recovering from surgery.

KOTA KINABALU: Puntung, the Sumatran rhino that successfully underwent a life-saving operation two weeks ago, has regained her appetite and put on 4kg.

However, veterinarians are continuing to give her full-time care and all the necessary medication she needs, in the hope of a full recovery.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said Puntung, one of the last three Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia, was doing well and consuming up to 30kg of food a day now – the typical intake for rhinos of her age and size.

Puntung is 20 years old and weighs 520kg, according to the Borneo Rhino Alliance website.

Tuuga said Puntung had started chewing food – mainly leaves – on the right side of her mouth after surgery on her upper left jaw.

“Puntung is also vocalising a lot, which is a good sign,” he said in a statement here.

Tuuga said three of Puntung’s teeth had to be removed on April 19 because of a large, life-threatening abscess.

He said the keepers also give Puntung a mud pack daily because she missed her wallow.

When Puntung is not out and about, she sleeps on a 20cm-thick mattress.

Dr Zainal Zainuddin, the veterinarian in charge of Puntung’s care, said the swelling and open wound on her left cheek were healing slowly with twice-daily antiseptic washes.

“This is a difficult task as we can’t get the rinse deep enough – she won’t allow it.

“Also, she tends to rub her face against the metal posts and wooden walls of her night stall,” he said.

“We have varied the type of antibiotics given to try to kill off all potential sources of infection,” he said.

“It will be several months before she is 100% recovered,” he added.

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