TULSA, Okla. (April 17, 2018) – The Tulsa Zoo is deeply saddened to share news about the passing of its male, Southern white rhinoceros. Buzbie passed away on Monday, April 16, surrounded by his caregivers.
Buzbie was known by his zookeepers as an inquisitive rhino who enjoyed rolling logs around his habitat. His favorite activity was wallowing in mud. Most mornings, zookeepers would find him caked in dirt, which was scratched off with a stiff-bristled brush to Buzbie’s delight.
“At 37, Buzbie was considered a geriatric animal, which means his zookeepers and veterinary staff already were watching for changes in body condition and daily activity, as well as making his golden years comfortable with extra care and attention,” says Joe Barkowski, vice president of animal conservation and science.
Barkowski says Buzbie had been slowing down recently due to multiple age-related issues 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,” Barkowski says. “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.”
Necropsy results confirmed the presence of age-related diseases, such as osteoarthritis in several joints and a systemic infection, which may have spread from severely worn teeth, another symptom of advanced age. Buzbie received extensive dental care is 2017, including a tooth extraction. Changes were made to his diet at that time, including shredding his hay and wetting other portions of his diet to make it easier for him to process his food.
The 37-year-old Southern white rhino had been a part of the Tulsa Zoo family since 1982, coming to the zoo with herd mate Jeannie.
In memory of Buzbie, friends are invited to share #BuzbieStories on the zoo’s Facebook page or on its other social media platforms.
About the species
Southern white rhinos are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Near Threatened, because of increased poaching and demand for rhino horn. An estimated 20,000 white rhinos remain in greatly reduced ranges of South Africa. Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoos and several private North American facilities are home to 248 Southern white rhinos that make up the formally managed population in the AZA Species Survival Plan®. The Northern white rhino is extinct in the wild; two non-reproducing females can be found in a reserve in Kenya.
The Tulsa Zoo is committed to rhino conservation, serving as a partner with the International Rhino Foundation. The zoo is on the front line of support for rhino protection efforts, reintroduction projects and community programs. The IRF seeks to stop the poaching crisis and its alarming increase by approaching the crisis from multiple angles, such as the source, end user and governments.