White rhino 'Natalie' at North Carolina Zoo dies at age 30

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Thursday, January 19, 2023
White rhino 'Natalie' at North Carolina Zoo dies at age 30
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The North Carolina Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its rhinos.

ASHEBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its rhinos.

Natalie, a southern white rhino, was 30 years old. Zookeepers said she was being treated by veterinarian and animal care teams for chronic kidney failure, anemia, and multisystemic disease for the past several months. She was euthanized on Jan. 10.

"Unfortunately, her health was in a steep decline despite treatment efforts, which led to a decrease in quality of life," said Dr. Tim Georoff, Associate Veterinarian for the North Carolina Zoo. "This week, the animal care and vet teams made the difficult decision to euthanize Natalie when treatment efforts were no longer effective."

According to the zoo, southern white rhinos are the second-largest land mammal after elephants and are the most social of the rhino species. They live together in groupings called "crashes." Natalie was a part of a crash of eight female rhinos including Linda, Kit, Abby, Nandi, Bonnie, Jojo and Mguu.

Natalie was a tough, independent female when she arrived at the Zoo who gradually softened through the years, Animal Management Supervisor Jade Tuttle said in a release.

"She was an experienced mother and took on the 'auntie' role with our first set of calves in 2020 as they started to disperse from their mothers," Tuttle said. "She was a very smart rhino, often leaving us wondering who was training whom. In her declining health, she began to seek out affection from staff and was dedicated to her bestie, rhino Abby. Her wild spirit was one of a kind, and she will be missed by our crash."

Natalie previously lived most of her life at White Oak Conservation Center in Florida, where she gave birth to two males named Tony and Dominique. She was later moved to the NC Zoo with her son Lyonnel in 2007.

The NC Zoo said all three of her offspring are still living at other accredited zoos in North America.

Rhinos in the wild live into their early 30s and can live into their early 40s under human care.

To learn more about rhinos or how you can donate to the North Carolina Zoo visit here.