SOURCE: Denver Zoo

Denver Zoo

September 17, 2015 15:41 ET

Denver Zoo Mourning Loss of Black Rhinoceros "Mshindi"

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - September 17, 2015) - Denver Zoo is deeply saddened to announce the death of "Mshindi," a beloved 21-year-old male black rhinoceros. He had been under close observation and treatment by veterinary and animal care staff for chronic foot problems that have gotten progressively worse over the last year and a half. Having lost his quality of life, staff made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the rhino the morning of September 16 at Denver Zoo. The median life expectancy for black rhinoceroses living in North American zoos is 17.8 years.

"This is very hard for all of our staff. We'll miss him terribly, but we knew this was the right thing to do," says Curator of Toyota Elephant Passage Dale Leeds. "Mshindi was well-known and loved by our zookeepers and guests for his wonderful personality."

Mshindi has dealt with recurring infections on his rear feet since April 2014. Denver Zoo's veterinary and animal care staff have explored a myriad of treatment options since that time, including 20 procedures and different types of therapy, and even developing customized boots for the rhino. Close attention was paid to his enclosures, foot hygiene and his diet. Mshindi began showing significant improvement in June 2015, but developed infections in both his front and rear feet a month later. Despite efforts by staff to alleviate Mshindi's pain and discomfort, he stopped responding to his treatment.

"We watched Mshindi very closely and were optimistic about his recovery, but he was no longer responding to his treatment. Unfortunately, he was getting progressively worse and we determined that his health was declining despite the tireless efforts by staff to treat him. It's always difficult to make these decisions, but we wanted to do what was in Mshinidi's best interest. He will be missed dearly," says Vice President of Veterinary Medicine Scott Larsen.

Mshindi, meaning "warrior" or "champion” in Swahili, was born at Denver Zoo in 1993 to parents, Lij and Rhinestone. Keepers described him as a "gentle soul" and say he was very loving. The black rhino was a guest favorite and perhaps best known for his painting, in which he learned to hold a brush in his mouth and run it along a canvas held by one of our zookeepers. These paintings were sold to raise money for rhino conservation. Mshindi also developed a very close bond with female rhino "Shy Anne," who passed away in 2014.

Due to their slow reproductive rate and the continuing threat of poaching, the black rhino is critically endangered. In 1960, there were an estimated 100,000 black rhinos but today there are less than 5,000, according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature. Although some black rhinos are slowly making a comeback in well-protected areas, they continue to be poached in unprotected areas for their horn which is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in Yemen for dagger handles. In fact, many black rhino populations have been decimated as poaching has dramatically increased in recent years. Black rhinos are also threatened by habitat loss.

About Denver Zoo: Denver Zoo brings education alive, providing a unique learning experience that sparks an interest in the natural world for visitors and program participants alike. Home to 4,300 animals representing more than 600 species, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which assures the highest standards of animal care.

A leader in green action, Denver Zoo is the greenest zoo in the country and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of the environment in support of all species by attaining the highest environmental standards. Since 1996, Denver Zoo has participated in about 600 animal conservation projects in 62 countries on all seven continents.

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Contact Information

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    Sean Andersen-Vie
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    Scott Camp
    (720) 337-1604