CINCINNATI — The death of the Cincinnati Zoo’s lone female Sumatran rhino has dealt a blow to a breeding program aimed at saving one of the world’s most critically endangered species.
The rhino, named Suci, was one of only 10 in captivity worldwide and died Sunday after showing symptoms of a disease that killed her mother, although zoo officials say it will be months before the final results of a necropsy are available.
The zoo’s breeding effort to mate Suci with a sibling followed a crisis summit in Singapore where conservationists concluded that as few as 100 of the two-horned, hairy rhinos might remain in forests in their native Indonesia and Malaysia. The species has become endangered through loss of forests and poaching of the animals’ horns, which are believed by some Asian cultures to have medicinal properties.
“Suci was a symbol of hope for her entire species, one that is quickly losing ground in the wild, and her absence will leave a hole in our hearts,” said Terri Roth, director of the zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife.
Suci was born in 2004 and was one of three Sumatran rhino calves born at the zoo to mother Emi and father Ipuh. Emi died in 2009 and Ipuh in 2013.
Keepers had hoped to mate Suci with her younger brother, Harapan, who is now the only Sumatran rhino in North America.