KOTA KINABALU: Puntung, the Sumatran rhinoceros who attracted global attention in April 2017 through dental surgery performed by a multinational team in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, is dying of squamous cell cancer.
According to Sabah Wildlife Department Director, Augustine Tuuga, the swelling on Puntung’s left cheek that alerted them to the infected tooth root had a more serious origin.
He said that after the surgery, the swelling progressed, and two subsequent biopsies revealed squamous cell carcinoma. The cancer has been spreading rapidly over the past few weeks. Specialists from several countries concur that it will be fatal, with or without treatment.
Puntung can no longer breathe through her left nostril, nor could she vocalise, he said, adding that she is in pain and her condition is declining fast.
“Other than administering painkillers, there is nothing more anyone can do. Accordingly, we are left with no other recourse except to agree with professional medical advice and so we have authorised euthanasia,” he said.
“This was a very difficult decision to make, but the specialists agree that on balance this is the best out of a very small number of unpleasant choices.” –CE/BNN