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North Carolina Zoo mourns loss of Natalie, rhino with 'big personality'

Zookeepers said Natalie, 30, had a personality that matched her big 4,000+ pound size.
Credit: NC Asheboro zoo

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo sadly announces the death of a southern white rhinoceros named Natalie.

She was euthanized on Jan. 10 after a period of declining health, according to zoo officials.

Zookeepers said 30-year-old Natalie had a personality that matched her big 4,000+ pound size. 

The veterinarian and animal care teams had been treating Natalie for chronic kidney failure, anemia, and multisystemic disease for the past several months.

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

Georoff said the full pathology report will provide more information about Natalie’s condition in the coming weeks.

Natalie came to the North Carolina Zoo with her son Lyonnel in 2007. She had previously lived most of her life at White Oak Conservation Center in Florida, where she gave birth to two males named Tony and Dominique. All three of her offspring are still living at other accredited zoos in North America.

Credit: NC Asheboro Zoo


Wild rhinos typically have a life expectancy of their early 30s and can live up to their early 40s under human care. Southern white rhinos are the second-largest land mammal after elephants. 

Southern white rhinos were nearly hunted to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century because some people believe their horns provide medical benefits. 

Rhino horn is made up of keratin, the same material that makes up human fingernails and hair. The threat faced by wild rhinos is very real.

Southern white rhinos are the most social of the rhino species and live together in groupings called “crashes.” The second-largest land mammal after elephants, southern white rhinos have two horns, grow to 12-13 feet long and up to six feet from hoof to shoulder, and weigh 4,000 to 5,000 pounds at full maturity. 

These gentle giants are herbivores and graze on grass, which helps maintain the diverse African grasslands, increase plant diversity and provide grazing areas for other animals that share their natural habitat of the savannahs in Africa.

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