The oldest white rhino in the world has died

Toby, the oldest known white rhino in the world, died at the age of 54 at a zoo near Verona, Italy.

“Nonno Toby” (Grandfather Toby) died on October 6, announced the Parco Natura Viva zoo where the animal lived. “He collapsed on the ground on his way back to his night shelter and about half an hour later his heart stopped beating,” said a spokesperson for the zoo.

Toby will be embalmed and exhibited at the Science Museum of Trento where he will join Blanco, a white lion from the zoo who died five years ago.

White rhinos normally live to age 40 in captivity and up to 30 in the wild, according to zoo keepers.

A “near-threatened” species

Toby was a southern white rhino, one of two white rhino subspecies. With around 18,000 individuals according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), it is classified as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The northern white rhino, for its part, is a technically extinct subspecies since the death in 2018 of the last male. Only two female northern white rhinos remain on Earth, living under guard in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta reserve.

None are able to carry a pregnancy to term, but scientists are planning to use surrogate mothers in southern white rhinos after successfully creating twelve northern white rhino embryos from the preserved gametes of several males.

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