ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The North Carolina Zoo has lost one of its longest residents.
Olivia, a southern white rhinoceros who lived at the North Carolina Zoo for more than 30 years, died Thursday.
Olivia was 54.
"Due to her significantly advanced age, we have been closely monitoring Olivia for any signs of declining health for the past few years," said Dr. Jb Minter, the Zoo's director of Animal Health and Chief Veterinarian. "The culmination of several health conditions led to a significant decrease in her quality of life and her ability to get around comfortably. The animal care and veterinary teams then made the difficult decision to euthanize Oliva."
She lived at the North Carolina Zoo since 1987 and arrived as a breeding pair with male rhino Stan, although they had no offspring.
In later years, Olivia and Stan lived together at the zoo's rhino annex in retirement for several years until Stan died in 2019.
The Zoo said that since then, Olivia was reintroduced to the other animals on the 40-acre Watani Grasslands and took on the role of "Great Auntie" to the younger rhinos.
Southern white rhinos are the most social of rhino species and live together in groupings called "crashes."
Most rhinos in the wild live into their early 30s and sometimes into their early 40s with human care. Olivia's ripe old age is a "testament to the extraordinary care she received through the years," the zoo said.
"I will certainly miss Liv and her sassy attitude," said Zookeeper Anna Hinson, who cared for the rhino for several years. "Over the years, she mellowed quite a bit, and I wish the Zoo's newer keepers had been around to see ol' Liv in her prime. Even in her golden years, it's truly remarkable how she stuck to her routine. I'll forever be richer for having worked with her."
Southern white rhinos are the second-largest land mammal after elephants.
The North Carolina Zoo now has a rhino crash of eight females - Linda, Kit, Natalie, Abby, Nandi, Bonnie, Jojo and Mguu.