Northern white rhino dies in US, leaving just three on the planet

The world is creeping closer to the extinction of northern white rhinos, with the death of a 41-year-old female that had been living at San Diego Safari Park since 1989

California: One of the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos died Sunday in Southern California, officials said. Nola, a 41-year-old northern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, had been dealing with health issues for months before her condition severely worsened last weekend. Her team of caretakers decided to euthanise her on Sunday morning.

Nola came to the Safari Park in 1989 from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic as part of a breeding program. Representation pic/AFP
Nola came to the Safari Park in 1989 from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic as part of a breeding program. Representation Pic/AFP

“We’re absolutely devastated by this loss, but resolved to fight even harder to #EndExtinction. We ask you to join us in that fight,” the park said in a statement on its Facebook page.

Nola’s death leaves only three northern white rhinos in the world. The other three, a male and two females, are under 24-hour guard at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Nola had surgery on November 13 to drain the abscess from her body but her health began to deteriorate about a week ago; her appetite faltered and she became listless. Her condition got worse over the past 24 hours and vets decided they had to put her down, according to the zoo.

Bad year
It has been a hard year for the sub-species as well as those trying to save them. In December, the park’s other northern white rhino, a male named Angalifu, died of cancer at age 44. In July, Nabire, a female at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic, died at age 32. A record 1,215 white rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2015. Nola was caught in Sudan when she was about two years old and taken to the Dvur Kralove Zoo to be part of a breeding program in 1989.

Did you know?

According to Save the Rhino, more than 20,000 of the creatures exist in the wild after being hunted close to extinction a century ago.

Rs 13.2cr  The amount set aside by the San Diego Zoo for an effort that would use southern white rhino mothers as surrogates to carry northern white rhino embryos

1,215 The number of white rhinos killed in South Africa in 2015, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

40-50  The average life span of a northern white rhino

2008 The year since the species has been extinct in the wild

Dead end?
Northern white rhinos are unlikely to have such a comeback story. The three who remain live under constant surveillance in Kenya, surrounded by armed guards 24 hours a day.

Lone male: The only remaining male rhino, Sudan, is seen on May 23, 2015 at the Ol-Pejeta sanctuary in KenyaLone male: The only remaining male rhino, Sudan, is seen on May 23, 2015 at the Ol-Pejeta sanctuary in Kenya

The lone male is too old to mate, and the two females are incapable of carrying a pregnancy, according to Live Science. It would take a miracle to even produce another northern white rhino, let alone revive the subspecies. But scientists are hoping they can manufacture one.

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