00:56 - Source: San Diego Zoo
Endangered northern white rhino facing health problems

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The 41-year old rhino has a recurring abscess on her right hip

Veterinarians at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where she lives, cleaned out the wound Thursday

CNN  — 

As if she doesn’t have enough pressure as one of the last four northern white rhinos left worldwide – Nola is now dealing with some health problems.

The 41-year old rhino has a recurring abscess on her right hip. Veterinarians at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where she lives, cleaned out the wound Thursday, and took blood and skin samples.

“The inside of the abscess is very hard, and we want to determine what may be causing this,” said Jim Oosterhuis, the principal veterinarian at the zoo. “At this point, we simply don’t know.”

Test results are expected in a few weeks.

The elderly Nola is a 4,500-pound powerful but gentle giant.

A portable chute was brought into her field habitat Thursday to keep the veterinary team safe during the procedure, according to a statement from the San Diego Zoo.

Once inside, she was given mild sedation, allowing her the ability to walk around immediately following the procedure.

Northern white rhinos are on the brink of extinction as poachers target their horns.

The other three white rhinos left in the world live at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Only one of those, Sudan, is a male, but at 42, he is considered an old man. He lives under 24-hour armed security.

The fate of the entire species rests on his being able to procreate with his female companions; Fatu, 15 and Najin, 25.