Zoo Mourns Loss of Rhino

Rolling Hills Zoo is mourning the loss of one of its animal family.

According to the zoo, staff are mourning the loss of one of the original Southern white rhinos who died on Friday.

Wagasa, 46 years old, was being treated for age-related ailments which were progressively getting worse and preventing her from standing or moving around. Due to her declining health and advanced age, it was decided that humanely euthanizing her was the kindest option.

Arriving at Rolling Hills Zoo in October 1996, Wagasa was one of two female Southern white rhinoceros transported from the Knoxville Zoo as part of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan. Millie, the second white rhino, passed away in June 2017.

Born in South Africa, Wagasa’s first zoo home was the Knoxville Zoo. She was then transferred in 1996 to Rolling Hills Zoo, on loan from the Knoxville Zoo, where she spent the second half of her life in the Zoo’s new rhino barn. Biologists estimate that wild rhinos live up to 35 years, but in captivity they may live up to 40 years. Wagasa has well exceeded the average rhino lifespan.

White rhinos are considered a Near Threatened species with approximately 20,000 white rhinos remaining in the wild. Currently, white rhinos live in eight countries – South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Botswana and Swaziland. Unfortunately over the years their population numbers have declined due to habitat loss and poaching. In the past four years over 1,000 annually have been killed, and within the next 20 years they could be extinct.

Wagasa will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Her body has been transported to K-State for a necropsy.