TAMPA — A Naples zookeeper who saved a rhinoceros from a 7,000-acre wildfire Friday is recovering at Tampa General Hospital after sustaining second-degree burns on 18 percent of his body, his doctors and fire officials said.
Donovan Smith, co-owner of NGALA Wildlife Preserve on Inez Road, was listed in fair condition after surgery Tuesday afternoon, spirits buoyed by the rescues of a leopard, a Florida panther and Walter, the 8-year-old, 5,000-pound white rhinoceros he has raised from infancy.
Smith, who started the refuge 15 years ago with his wife, Tammy, managed a smile in a photo he posted to his Facebook page Friday while traveling to Tampa General.
“NGALA staff teamed together today to save all the animals! The structures and facilities fared well, the property is burned pretty bad, Mother Nature will rebound,” Smith wrote.
Staff at the preserve were successful in safely evacuating the giraffe, leopard and more than 40 …