Zoo Knoxville Saddened by Death of Beloved Rhino

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Zoo Knoxville Saddened by Death of Beloved Rhino

Posted: 12/22/2016
Mondo Rhino at the ZooZoo Knoxville is saddened to announce the death of Mondo, the zoo’s male Southern white rhino who was a beloved ambassador for his endangered species in Knoxville since 1988.

The geriatric rhino’s health began to decline rapidly over the last few days.  Despite exhaustive efforts by his caretakers and the veterinary team from the U.T. College of Veterinary Medicine, Mondo continued to deteriorate.  The decision was made to humanely euthanize him on Thursday afternoon and his dedicated team of keepers were with him.  

Mondo came to Knoxville in May of 1988 on a breeding recommendation to be paired with the zoo’s herd of females.  Mondo sired nine calves during his time in Knoxville, and his offspring have gone on to other zoos to be part of the Species Survival Plan, a collaborative effort of all zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to save rhinos from extinction.  Due to his advanced age, he was retired from breeding several years ago but continued to inspire and educate zoo visitors.  Mondo was 44 years old; the life expectancy for rhinos ranges between 40 and 50 years.

“We are heart-broken and saddened by the loss of Mondo, who was truly beloved,” said Lisa New, President and CEO of Zoo Knoxville.  “He connected people with the plight of wild rhinos.  His legacy lives on not only in his progeny, but also in all those who were touched by him to care about the survival of rhinos.”

Once common across southern Africa, southern white rhinos were driven to the brink of extinction in the late 19th century, with a wild population of less than 100 individuals by 1895.  After making a successful recovery due to careful management and protection, they are now classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.  Rhinos are now imperiled due to the lucrative trade in rhino horns controlled by organized crime to meet the demand in Asia, where it is used in ornamental carvings and traditional medicine. 

Zoo Knoxville is a nonprofit entity situated on 53 wooded acres just east of downtown Knoxville. Zoo Knoxville features exhibits of wild animals in natural habitats and is world renowned for its efforts in conservation and species survival. Zoo Knoxville is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Knoxville’s largest attraction, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Currently, the zoo is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily.  Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. For more information visit zooknoxville.org