AboutZoos, Since 2008


Cincin­nati Zoo dev­as­tated by loss of endan­gered Suma­tran rhino

pub­lished 08 April 2014 | mod­i­fied 08 April 2014

“Suci”, one of the world’s rare endan­gered Suma­tran rhi­nos, passed away late on Sun­day, March 30. Sur­rounded by the keep­ers and vet­eri­nary staff who cared for her daily, she died at her home at the Cincin­nati Zoo & Botan­i­cal Garden.

Sumatran rhinoceros Emi with offspringThe female Suma­tran rhino, born at the Cincin­nati Zoo in 2004, was one of three Suma­tran rhino calves born to mother “Emi” and father “Ipuh.” Suci’s keep­ers first became con­cerned about her when they noticed her los­ing weight sev­eral months ago. After care­ful research and hours of ded­i­cated mon­i­tor­ing, staff began treat­ing her for hemochro­mato­sis, oth­er­wise known as iron stor­age dis­ease. Although hemochro­mato­sis is extremely dif­fi­cult to diag­nose in a Suma­tran rhino, Suci’s mother died from the dis­ease in 2009. In humans it is a her­i­ta­ble dis­ease and many of Suci’s symp­toms were sim­i­lar to those of her mother’s. A necropsy will be per­formed on Suci early Mon­day, but it will be sev­eral weeks before the zoo will have the final results.

The inter­na­tional com­mu­nity has a great chal­lenge on its hands. If we don’t act quickly, and boldly, the loss of this mag­nif­i­cent ani­mal will be among the great tragedies of our time.
Dr. Terri Roth, Direc­tor of the Zoo’s Lind­ner Cen­ter for Con­ser­va­tion & Research of Endan­gered Wildlife (CREW) and Vice-​President of Conservation »

“Today the Cincin­nati Zoo has lost one of its most beloved and charis­matic ani­mals. Suci was a sym­bol of hope for her entire species, one that is quickly los­ing ground in the wild, and her absence will leave a great hole in our hearts,” said Dr. Roth.

For sev­eral months, sci­en­tists, keep­ers, and vet­eri­nar­i­ans at the Cincin­nati Zoo have been treat­ing Suci for the com­plex dis­ease, while hop­ing for a com­plete recov­ery. Ther­a­peu­tic phle­botomies, the treat­ment used on humans and in African black rhi­nos, were per­formed by Zoo staff and the early results were promising.

“Suci’s behav­iour and appetite had improved and we remained hope­ful,” said Dr. Roth. “How­ever, on Sun­day her con­di­tion quickly dete­ri­o­rated. Keep­ers and vets worked together tire­lessly to make Suci com­fort­able but ulti­mately there was lit­tle that could be done.”

Cincin­nati Zoo rhino breed­ing effort
The three Suma­tran rhino calves born at the Cincin­nati Zoo were the direct result of years of break­through research by sci­en­tists at CREW. The Cincin­nati Zoo was the first place to suc­cess­fully breed this crit­i­cally endan­gered species in cap­tiv­ity in over 112 years. To date, only one other calf has been born out­side of Cincin­nati, at the Suma­tran Rhino Sanc­tu­ary in Indone­sia, where Indone­sian vet­eri­nar­i­ans employed the breed­ing pro­to­col devel­oped by CREW sci­en­tists. That calf, named “Andatu” was sired by the first calf pro­duced at the Cincin­nati Zoo “Andalas.” The Los Ange­les Zoo sent Andalas to Suma­tra in 2007 to help bol­ster the Indone­sian pro­gramme. Now, the only Suma­tran rhino liv­ing in North Amer­ica is Suci’s brother “Hara­pan” who also resides at the Cincin­nati Zoo. Hara­pan moved to the White Oak Con­ser­va­tion Cen­ter in Yulee, Florida in 2008, and later moved to the Los Ange­les Zoo, before return­ing to Cincin­nati in July of 2013. At Cincin­nati Zoo plans were devel­oped to allow inbreed­ing as a last resort to avoid extinc­tion of this rare rhino species. But even breed­ing brother and sister

“The Cincin­nati Zoo has been com­mit­ted to sav­ing the Suma­tran rhino for 25 years, and we plan to keep work­ing to ensure this species will still be around a cen­tury from today,” said Thane May­nard, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Cincin­nati Zoo.

Keep­ing Suma­tran Rhi­nos at Cincin­nati Zoo:

(Source: The Cincin­nati Zoo & Botan­i­cal Gar­den YouTube channel)

Crit­i­cally Endan­gered
Listed as Crit­i­cally Endan­gered by the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species and con­sid­ered the most endan­gered of all rhino species, it is per­haps the most endan­gered large mam­mal on earth. It is esti­mated that no more than 100 ani­mals exist, almost all on the island of Suma­tra in Indone­sia. The pri­mary cause of the species’ decline is the loss of forests due to oil palm, log­ging and human encroach­ment, even in some national parks, and poach­ing for its horn, which some Asian cul­tures believe con­tains med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties. Today, there are only nine Suma­tran rhi­nos liv­ing in cap­tiv­ity worldwide.

The Cincin­nati Zoo works closely with the Indone­sian Min­istry of Forestry, the Indone­sian Rhino Foun­da­tion, the IUCN Asian Rhino Spe­cial­ist Group and the Inter­na­tional Rhino Foun­da­tion, to pro­tect this species in the wild, and also prop­a­gate Suma­tran rhi­nos in cap­tiv­ity. Both approaches will be nec­es­sary to secure the future of this crit­i­cally endan­gered species for future generations.

“Although we remain proud of the many con­tri­bu­tions the Cincin­nati Zoo has made to Suma­tran rhino con­ser­va­tion, espe­cially to the cap­tive breed­ing effort, the loss of Suci is a dev­as­tat­ing blow to the pro­gram,” said Dr. Roth. “The best way we can remem­ber and hon­our her is to work even harder to save this incred­i­ble species – if we let them dis­ap­pear, the respon­si­bil­ity will rest heav­ily on all of our shoulders.”

(Source: Cincin­nati Zoo media release, 31.03.2014)

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