World’s oldest white rhino dies at the age of 54 at Italy’s zoo

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The world’s oldest white rhino, Grandpa Tony, died at the age of 54 after collapsing on his way to his sleeping area in a northern Italy zoo. ‘Nonno Toby’ fell to the ground on October 6 at the Parco Natural Viva and gently passed away.

According to the zoo’s press release, the CEO Cesare Avesani Zaborra stated they all knew this would happen, however the loss of this rare animal remains very sad. White rhinos normally live up to 40 years in captivity and 30 years in the wild. Breeding rhinos are exceptionally difficult as females only give birth every three to four years after a 16-month pregnancy.

Toby’s death follows the passing of his partner Sugar who died in 2012 and now leaves the zoo with only one remaining white rhino, Benno, who is 39-year-old.

Toby was a southern white rhino and only one of five rhino species not considered endangered with an estimated population of 18,000 left in the world. Two northern white rhinos who live in Kenya are guarded 24/7. The animals are killed for their horns used in Asia for traditional medicinal purposes. For trophy hunters, the horns are brought back as prizes.

Toby’s body will be embalmed and placed on display at the MuSe science museum in Trento where he will be placed alongside of Blanco, a white lion from the zoo who died five years ago.

“However, it will not be only the men who have shared with him all their life who will miss Toby. It will also be the nyala and the 14 hippos born and raised in his shadow, who shared with him the only department in Europe where these species coexisted. An acquired grandfather – as great as he is patient – especially for the little hippos, to whom he has always allowed to play with his tail and with his horn . ” In reality – the CEO of Parco Natura Viva still remembers – it was they who supported him in a very difficult moment in his life that led him in 2012, already elderly, to face the death of Sugar, his faithful life partner.“. And so, another piece of 20th century biodiversity goes away while the race against extinction , which in nature does not leave time for animals to reproduce and repopulate the territories, is increasingly played out in zoological parks . Topic, that of the conservation of biodiversity, at the center of the annual conference of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums that began today.”

Zoo’s press release

Rest in peace Toby.

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