Salina zoo mourns death of 30-year-old southern white rhino

The Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) family is grieving the loss of Uzazi, their male southern white...
The Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) family is grieving the loss of Uzazi, their male southern white rhino, who was the last of the original rhinos that arrived at RHZ in 1995.(Rolling Hills Zoo)
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 5:20 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - One of the first animals to call Salina’s Rolling Hills Zoo home is dead at the age of 30. The zoo said Uzazi, who had lived at Rolling Hills since 1995, developed age-related issues that weren’t responding to treatment. The zoo said the decision to euthanize Uzazi was made as his quality of life rapidly declining.

Born on Nov. 20, 1991 at the Sand Diego Wild Animal Park.

“Of the original group of rhinos, Uzazi was the youngest, and one of his favorite things to do was smash boxes, sweet potatoes, bags, and even an occasional pumpkin,” shared Devney Bowen, RHZ Head Keeper. “He also loved to manipulate things, so we created enrichment to encourage those natural behaviors. One of his favorites was a PVC shaker filled with pellets or scent. Once he had the shaker he would move it with his horn to get the pellets to fall out or release the scent of the female rhinos. Uzazi was very intelligent. When working on hoof care he learned to lie on his side and present all four feet straight out for inspection and trimming. He also learned to open his mouth so we could look inside, and would hold this position for favorite treats.”

Staff at the Rolling Hills Zoo remembered Uzazi as being sweet, gentle and outgoing, loving attention from keepers, staff and visitors.

“He certainly touched the heart and ignited passion for me and my family as I’m sure he did with all of those who met him,” said Rolling Hills Zoo Executive Director Ryan VanZant. There is little doubt that his life led to many thousands of small actions all contributing toward saving his species all around the world.”

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