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Southern white rhino at Tulsa Zoo dies at 37

TULSA, Okla. – A Southern white rhinoceros at the Tulsa Zoo died earlier this week, according to zoo officials.

Buzbie, 37, died Monday surrounded by caregivers.

Zoo officials said Buzbie was slowing down recently due to multiple age-related issues that are common for a geriatric rhino.

“His quality of life, mobility, appetite and attitude have been continuously examined by zoo veterinarians and animal care staff. He was monitored around the clock during his final hours,” said Joe Barkowski, vice president of animal conservation and science. “When it was noted that his quality of life had declined significantly, our veterinarians and animal care staff agreed it was best to end his discomfort through humane euthanasia. Buzbie was attended to by his dedicated team of caretakers to ensure a safe and peaceful passing.”

A necropsy showed the presence of age-related diseases, such as osteoarthritis in several joints and a systemic infection, which “may have spread from severely worn teeth.”

Buzbie had been a part of the family at the Tulsa Zoo since 1982.

Zookeepers say he was “an inquisitive rhino who enjoyed rolling logs around his habitat.”

Southern white rhinos are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because of increased poaching and demand for rhino horn.

The Northern white rhino is extinct in the wild; two non-reproducing females can be found in a reserve in Kenya, according to Tulsa Zoo officials.