Cincinnati zoo
12:52 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Cincinnati Zoo mourning loss of endangered rhino

The Cincinnati Zoo is mourning the loss of an endangered Sumatran Rhino.  Zoo officials announced Monday that "Suci" died late Sunday surrounded by her keepers and veterinary staff.  

"Suci" was born in 2004 to mother, "Emi" and father "Ipuh."  She was one of three Sumatran rhino calves born at the zoo.  
 
“The Cincinnati Zoo has lost one of its most beloved and charismatic animals," said Dr. Terri Roth in a press release, who is director of the Zoo's Linder Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife and Vice-President of Conservation.  "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.  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.”

Her keepers became concerned about her when they noticed her losing weight several months ago.  She was being treated for hemochromatosis, otherwise known as an iron storage disease.  A necropsy will be performed, but final test results on a cause of death will take several weeks.  

Suci's mother Emi died from the disease in 2009.  The zoo said in humans it is a heritable disease and many of Suci's symptoms were similar to those of her mother's.  The zoo staff was treating her for the disease and the early results were promising.

“Suci’s behavior 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.”

It's estimated that no more than 100 Sumatran rhinos exist on earth, almost all on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

The three Sumatran rhino calves born at the zoo were the result of years of research by scientists at CREW.  The release said the Cincinnati Zoo was the first place to successfully breed this critically endangered species in captivity in more than 112 years.  Only one other calf has been born outside of Cincinnati, at a sanctuary in Indonesia, where veterinarians employed the breeding protocol developed in Cincinnati.