Critically Endangered Northern White Rhino Has Died

On November 22, the zoological community as a whole was rocked by the death of one of the most important animal ambassadors in the world.

Nola, a 41-year-old Northern White Rhino passed away at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  After being treated for a bacterial infection and age-related health issues, Nola’s condition worsened, leaving animal care specialists and veterinarians with the difficult, but humane decision to euthanize her.  Nola’s age fell at the upper end of a rhino’s life expectancy.  She first took residence at the park in 1989, coming from a zoo in what is now the Czech Republic.

Nola’s passing has left only three Northern White Rhinos on the planet.  All three are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.  All wild Northern White Rhinos became extinct due to increased horn poaching in 2008.


San Diego Zoo

The Northern White Rhino is a subspecies of the White Rhino.  The San Diego Zoo is working tirelessly to save the critically dwindling subspecies through the collection of genetic material and advancements in the technologies surrounding assisted reproduction.  Genetic material from a dozen Northern White Rhinos has been preserved at The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation and Research.  The hope is to save the subspecies from total extinction by developing embryos from the frozen cells of the Northern White Rhino, while using Southern White Rhinos as surrogates.  The three remaining Northern White Rhinos in Kenya are said to be too old to reproduce.


San Diego Zoo

The many members of the animal care staff that cared for Nola are devastated by this loss; not only because an animal they treasured has passed away, but they also mourn the loss of such a regal symbol of wildlife, a true ambassador for her kind.  Nola’s presence at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park inspired countless guests to care more for our environment and increase awareness for the plight of animals like her.

The Safari Park has begun spreading the hashtag #Nola4Ever to continue to raise public awareness to the critical nature of Northern White Rhino extinction.  You can read more about The San Diego Zoo’s rhino conservation initiatives here.


Times of San Diego

Our thoughts are with the dedicated teams who cared for Nola over the last 26 years.  Your efforts have made a difference for rhinos and a positive impact on public education.  If you were able to visit Nola at the Safari park, share your photos.  Share what you learned about her and her species.  And most importantly, spread  awareness.  Educate others on what we all can do to to #EndExtinction.

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