Uncategorized
Latest Headlines
0

The Science of Pathology

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

Camille_W5_picHave you ever wondered what happens to the animals at the Zoo after they pass away? Well, last week the interns had a firsthand look through the necropsy and histology buildings at the San Diego Zoo’s hospital. Our guide through the necropsy and histology buildings was Megan McCarthy. Dr. McCarthy is a DVM Pathology Resident at the San Diego Zoo.

So what exactly is pathology? Before our trip into the necropsy and histology, Dr. McCarthy gave the interns a presentation all about veterinary pathology, and the roles that those in the field play at the Zoo. Pathology is, essentially, the study of viruses and diseases. The pathologists at the Zoo perform necropsies or “animal autopsies” to identify the cause of death in collection and non-collection animals that die on the Zoo’s premises. Pathologists study and examine the sample tissues they extract during the necropsy to identify any traces of disease that had not been seen during the actual autopsy itself. Even though most people do not know about veterinary pathology, the work they do is extremely important to keeping the collection animals at the Zoo healthy and avoid any possible outbreak of disease.

For most Zoo visitors, the process that animals go through after they die is not something on their mind. However, the process is also very necessary to ensure the health of all the animals residing at the Zoo. After an animal passes, they are first sent to the necropsy building. It is here that the animal is delicately examined to identify any signs of disease that can be seen with the naked eye. Dr. McCarthy performed a necropsy on a feeder rabbit in order to show the interns some of the processes as well as what they look at when they try to discern the cause of death. During the necropsy, small samples of each organ are taken and sent to the histology department. Once the samples are delivered to the histology department, they are made into small slides that are stained to be once again examined by the pathologists. A variety of different stains are used in order to reveal cell types, infections, or foreign substances in the animal’s tissues that were too microscopic to be identified during the gross necropsy. If you have ever had your tonsils removed, they would go through a similar process to be made into slides.

What about diseases that can be transferred from non-collection animals that die on Zoo premises? To prevent cases like that from happening, all animals that die near or within the Zoo are examined in the necropsy building. Birds are also placed inside a special hood designed to contain pathogens to prevent bird flu from being transmitted to people. The pathologists are also always on the lookout for the West Nile virus. As you might already know, West Nile virus is spread by mosquitoes and can infect both animals and humans. So the pathologists at the Zoo perform necropsies on non-collection animals to ensure nothing like West Nile can be spread to the animals in the collection or to the human visitors.

The professionals working at the Zoo know all too well how unavoidable death is, which is why Veterinary Pathologists are so valuable in a zoo type setting. If an animal is ill and dies, the pathologists can identify the exact cause of death and prevent disease from spreading to the other animals in the collection. How an animal is treated after they die is just as important as how they are treated alive.

Camille, Real World Team
Week Five, Fall Session 2015

0

Working on the Wild Side

InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s website!

 Have you ever dreamed of having a crazy awesome job? What would be the first thing that comes to your mind? Swimming with whale sharks? Staring contests with giraffes? Driving a motor bike across the towns of Southeast Asia? What about all three combined? This week we met David O’Connor, Community-Based Conservation Ecologist working with the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, who has one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever heard of!

Mr. O’Connor’s interest in wildlife and conservation started when he was a young man living in the countryside of Ireland. Seeing firsthand how loss of habitat due to agriculture affected the native wildlife, Mr. O’Connor developed an interest in conserving wildlife. From a very young age, he made efforts to help the local wildlife. He shared how he would run ahead of the hounds during fox hunts with a fox scent just to steer hunters from the foxes trail! By the time he was ready for college, Mr. O’Connor knew he wanted to study zoology and did so for his undergraduate degree. He then received a master’s degree in Business at the University of Dublin before venturing to the University of Michigan to receive his master’s in Conservation Ecology. Out of college, Mr. O’Connor worked for National Geographic Magazine designing animal natural history articles, and still continues working for the magazine part-time. It wasn’t until a job opened up at the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) in the conservation education department that Mr. O’Connor began truly leaving his mark on worldwide conservation efforts. Currently working for the Conservation Partnership Development program of ICR, Mr. O’Connor has two main projects that he focuses on.

The first project is on the illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Mr. O’Connor explained to us that, “Conservation begins with the people” and he and his team focus on communicating with the local people in Laos about ways to combat the wildlife trade. Wildlife trade in countries like Laos has become a large problem because of the high demand of exotic animal parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Product demands for rhino horn, bear paw rice wine, bear bile, tiger parts, rhino horns, elephant tusks, and clouded leopard bones have endangered many wildlife species. Mr. O’Connor has been focusing on the sun bear trade, trying to survey and hire local people to raise awareness about the endangerment of these animals. One of the products of highest demand, bear bile, has caused killings and harvestings of local bear organs in order to meet the increasing medicinal demands. Through surveying the local people, Mr. O’Connor has been finding that people have positive feelings towards the Laos wildlife, have an awareness of the cruel treatment of the animals, and that country people are more concerned about the species decline than those in urban settings. The research collected can assist efforts in raising awareness about the illegal wildlife trade.

The second part of Mr. O’Connor’s job is something he has loved doing for years, researching and studying reticulated giraffes in Kenya. Giraffes, rapidly moving up to the top of the critically endangered list, are threatened greatly by poaching and habitat loss. About 80% of the reticulated giraffe’s wild population has declined in just 15 years. Mr. O’Connor specializes in studying the behaviors of these giraffes as well as working with the local people to discourage poaching and killing for bush meat. Many of the native people are pastoralists, or nomadic herders that maintain their livestock with the wild animals. By herding during the day and sleeping in new places at night, these people have been coexisting with the wildlife around them. This, Mr. O’Connor described to us, could be key in the future of conservation, because the pastoralist lands often contain high concentrations of endangered species. Mr. O’Connor believes that the local people of Africa have the power to make a large impact in conservation. For these reasons, his team places emphasis on becoming familiar with the communities and culture of the people. Giraffes are often used for target practice by poachers, snagged in wire traps hung from trees, and killed as an easy form of bush meat. Mr. O’Connor and his team have been hiring locals to assist in field research, map livestock movements, set up cameras, and have created education programs for conservation. The team’s efforts have brought much wildlife back to community lands and even some giraffe celebration ceremonies to the local tribes, steadily making a difference in conservation.

Whether he is combatting the wildlife trade in the forests of Southeast Asia, or spending hours in a jeep observing his favorite species of giraffe, Mr. O’Connor dedicates his life to conservation every day. I don’t know about you, but I’d sure love to do what he does some day!

Shannon, Careers Team
Week 5, Fall 2015

0

Promoting Conservation with Your Bear Hands

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here on the Zoo’s Website!

Traveling to foreign countries while learning about native cultures, values, and perspectives sounds like a vacation for most people. But for Mr. David O’Connor, however, these kinds of things are what he does for a living. On Wednesday, the interns had the amazing opportunity to meet Mr. O’Connor and learn more about his involvement in the conservation efforts at the Institute for Conservation Research. He is the Community-based Conservation Ecologist for the Conservation Partnership Development at the Institute. Yeah, I know, it’s a mouthful! We discussed Mr. O’Connor’s recent projects and how his work is advancing the efforts toward saving the animals he works with.

“How does your job relate to animal conservation?” is a question that most people may have trouble answering. I believe this is because of the fact that a majority of us cannot see the direct impact we have on animals. In Mr. O’Connor’s case, the simpler question would be, “How does your job NOT relate to conservation?” He studies different aspects of conservation on a daily basis while trying to understand how humans can be influenced to be more conscious of their impact.

Mr. O’Connor has been at the forefront of conservation efforts in various countries, but I am going to focus on his work in Southeast Asia. While working in countries like Laos and Cambodia, he has concentrated his time on bears, specifically the sun bear and the Asiatic black bear. Mr. O’Connor mainly works with native people, conducting studies and trying to figure out how to reduce the demand for these bears. He stated that the biggest threats to wildlife include habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and wildlife trade. During his time in Asia, Mr. O’Connor began a study on the socio-ecological factors of wildlife trade. In Southeast Asia, bears are most commonly captured and killed for bile, a liquid stored in their gallbladders and often used for traditional medicine. Mr. O’Connor conducted his study with the goal of investigating the drivers of why people are motivated to kill bears as well as the perceived consequences of killing bears.

He and his team first started by distributing 1400 questionnaires to both native Cambodians and Laotians as well as western tourists. Their results indicated that the natives reacted more sympathetically when told that their use of bear products like bear bile will cause a decline in wild bears. He also recorded a significant difference in knowledge and attitudes toward bear conservation depending on where the natives lived. Mr. O’Connor’s objective is to use results like these to contour the message that goes to the native people in order to reduce wild bear trade. He believes that an effective advertising campaign can be the difference between a thriving species and an extinct species.

As the interns listened to Mr. O’Connor’s presentation, we learned a lot more about his conservation work in the field. I found out the importance of working with and educating the people that directly impact wildlife conservation. I also realized that conservation efforts do not always have to involve working solely with animals. Mr. O’Connor stated that he loves studying where people and wildlife overlap. He finds joy in being able to give people a way to solve their situational problems. As Mr. O’Connor reiterated throughout his presentation to the interns, “the key to conservation is people”.

Bami, Conservation Team
Week Five, Fall Session 2015

0

Get Your Zoo News from ZOONOOZ

As Yun Zi discovered in 2010, a new location can deliver better views!

As Yun Zi discovered in 2010, a new location can deliver better views!

We’re excited to announce a new home for stories and updates about the animals and conservation work of San Diego Zoo Global: the ZOONOOZ website!  For the first time, the amazing stories, photos, and videos that have only been available via our printed magazine and app will be available to just about everyone. Anyone with a web browser—on any device—can enjoy the fun, interesting, and informative tales we share.

Blogs published in 2015 have been re-homed at the new location, and this site will continue to exist as an archive of past years’ stories and information.

The search function on the new site will help you find stories about the species you particularly enjoy reading about, but we encourage everyone to explore and scroll through the topic headings—you’re sure to discover some new favorites!

1

Rhinos in India Now Thrive in Protected Area

Conservationists say that new video of greater one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park offers new hope for the future. The video was taken in late October by a team of conservationists, visiting the area to survey the success of ongoing anti-poaching efforts supported by San Diego Zoo Global.

Once prevalent throughout southern Asia, the greater one-horned rhino has been significantly affected by poaching for its horns. The entire population of the species is now only found in three national parks, where rhinos are heavily guarded. But although the greater one-horned rhino was reduced to a population of 200 only a few years ago, with the protection of the parks and communities around them, there are now more than 2,400 of this species in Kaziranga. In recent years, additional populations have been introducedthrough collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global experts and the International Rhino Foundationto protected areas in Manas and Orang national parks.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
 
2

NOLA, THE NORTHERN WHITE RHINO, LEAVES AN IMMEASURABLE LEGACY THROUGH HER CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCIENCE

While the death of Nola, a critically endangered northern white rhino who died Nov. 22 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is still being mourned by those who worked closely with the beloved animal, as well as people from around the globe, scientists at San Diego Zoo Global are focusing on how Nola’s contributions through science could help save her species from extinction.

Taking a science-based approached, Dr. Oliver Ryder, director of genetics and Dr. Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive physiology, and their teams at the San Diego Zoo Conservation for Research Frozen Zoo along with collaborators at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and at the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Medicine in Berlin, are working to develop and perfect reproductive techniques to save the northern white rhino from extinction.

Nola

“Nola’s unique story of the incredible journey she took in her lifetime and her impact on the world could never be recreated by any facet of science,” stated Dr. Ryder. “However, the information in her DNA – the digitized sequence of her genome – and the living cells that we have saved will serve as a legacy and a crucial tool for our efforts to bring back the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction. We hope what we can learn will also contribute to conservation of other species of rhinoceros.”

Durrant and Ryder, who both knew and worked with Nola for 26 years, obtained tissues samples collected post mortem for banking and establishment of additional cell cultures for the Frozen Zoo. The Frozen Zoo also has genetic material from 11 other northern white rhinos. The genetic material includes semen from two male northern white rhinos but no eggs from females. As expected, due to Nola’s advanced age, no eggs were able to be collected, but her ovarian and uterine tissues were saved.

Jane2

“Although Nola did not reproduce in her long lifetime, she touched the hearts of everyone who was fortunate enough to meet her.  In that way she contributed to our mission of saving the northern white rhino by demonstrating the intelligence and gentleness of her species,” stated Durrant.  “It is a great consolation to all who loved her that many of her tissues were collected and frozen for future research and assisted reproduction.  Her passing only strengthens our commitment to develop the technology needed to realize the goal of producing an offspring from Nola’s preserved cells.”

To reach the ultimate goal of successfully producing a northern white rhino, multiple steps must be accomplished. The first step involves sequencing the genomes of the northern white rhinos to clarify the extent of genetic divergence from their closest relative, the southern white rhino. Understanding these differences will assist scientists in guiding assisted reproduction efforts. The next step requires conversion of the cells preserved in the Frozen Zoo to stem cells that could develop into sperm and eggs, a process successfully begun in the laboratory of Dr. Jeanne Loring of Scripps Research Institute and published in 2011.

Reproductive options might include artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, genetic engineering or a hybrid with a southern white rhino. The reproductive system of rhinos is very complex and there is still much to be learned. San Diego Zoo Global recently opened a new Rhino Rescue Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, home to six southern white rhinos, who eventually could serve as surrogates.

Jane4

To further Nola’s contributions to science, her body and valuable horns will be sent to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for inclusion in the research collections, where they will be maintained in an off-exhibit area with materials from other northern white rhinos. Nola’s physical remains will be preserved so scientists now and in the future can continue to study this magnificent species.

The 41-year-old Nola had been on around-the-clock watch since Nov. 17 when her keepers noticed she began showing signs of a reduced appetite and activity level. Her condition worsened significantly in the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 22, and the Safari Park’s animal care team made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

Nola’s death leaves three northern white rhinos remaining: a 43-year-old male, Sudan, and two females, 26-year-old Najin and 15-year-old Fatu, living under human care at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. These rhinos all have reproductive issues.

Northern white rhinos have been brought to the brink of extinction due to poaching in Africa.  Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails. Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures. In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare and endangered.

18

A Tribute To Nola

We lost an icon on Sunday, November 22: Nola, one of only four northern white rhinos left in the world. Here is part of her story.

For over 26 years, Nola called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park home. As most of us know, she arrived here from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic in 1989, with her coalition partner, Nadi. Neither female had reproduced; both were entering their late teens, a time when most rhino females have already had several calves. Nola and Nadi took quickly to the large open exhibits of the Safari Park. They learned to enjoy the California sun and the large expansive pond in the exhibit. Unfortunately, they never fulfilled the dreams that researchers, curators and keepers had for them. Neither female showed consistent interest in the male northern white rhinos—Dinka, Saut, and Angalifu—they shared their exhibit with. Very little mating behavior took place, and as a result, the northern white rhino is one of the very few animals we have not bred successfully at the Safari Park.

Jane2

While Nola never had a calf, she always had a following. At first it was her keeper staff who had the opportunity to know her intimately. Nola arrived with a hoof problem that required regular hands-on care. Nola’s nails curved upward, so they did not wear down normally. As a result, keepers had to perform nail trims on her so she could walk less flat-footed—something that, had she been left in the wild, might have led to her early demise. Nola received pedicures throughout her entire life, at the hands of her keepers. Nola learned early on to trust the humans around her—they always looked out for her well-being.

Because Nola was so tractable, she became an artist! A few years ago, she started “painting” by rubbing her horn on canvases with children’s nontoxic paints. Keepers learned that not all children’s paints are the same! She actually had preferences for one brand over another, based on the smell. Rhinos have very good noses, and she made her preferences known. As most of us know, she went on to paint pictures for auctions and rhino fund-raising campaigns. She also painted a piece for the state capitol, which was presented to Toni Atkins, speaker of the California State Assembly.

Jane3

The last group of northern white rhinos in the wild was wiped out by poachers around 2008. But it has been the deaths of three northern white rhinos in zoos that have spurred many people into action. In October 2014, 34-year-old Suni died in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, leaving six northern white rhinos in the world. Then in December 2014, our beloved Angalifu (Angi to his keepers) died here at the Safari Park, leaving five. In July 2015, we lost female Nabire at the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. She was one of only four northern white rhinos ever born in captivity. And now with the loss of Nola, we are down to three northern white rhinos in existence on the planet, all at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Where you and I come in is with San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Center. If technology continues down the exponential path it has taken of late, there is hope for the northern white rhino. We already have the DNA of 12 northern white rhinos in our Frozen Zoo®. What we need to do next is develop assisted reproduction techniques, like those we use in humans and other animals. Also, if the northern white rhino is to make a comeback, it is because a southern white rhino helps. The Rhino Rescue Center is home to six southern white rhinos. One of these southern white rhinos could be the surrogate mother for a northern white rhino, carrying the calf for their cousin, and then rearing that calf. It is possible that someday the northern white rhino could make a comeback, right in our own backyard. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Jane4

Even though Nola has passed, she gives us something to believe in. She gives us hope and love, but most of all she gives us courage. She’s been so strong for the last few months battling her illness. It’s her “I’m not giving up” attitude that has inspired her keepers to keep on. She wasn’t just passing the time: Nola had been living. Yes, she slept in every morning, and we brought her food to her, and we were there to trim her nails. But Nola enjoyed life. She even had a rhino companion: the 46-year-old southern white rhino bull named Chuck. Their relationship was special, and friendly. Nola and Chuck were two very old rhinos that had found a connection at the end of their days. That’s why we worked so hard to keep them happy—they deserved it. Chuck will continue to live in our South Africa exhibit, and you can visit him by taking the Africa Tram Safari or a Caravan Safari.

Here’s my final thought about my friend Nola. I believe God wants us to do what’s right for all species, not just the northern white rhinoceros. Thank you for being part of the team that knows the right thing to do. And thank YOU, world, for caring. What we do does make a difference.

 

Jane Kennedy is lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous post, What’s It Like to Work With the Rarest Rhino in the World?

4

SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL RECEIVES AN OUTPOURING OF SYMPATHY OVER DEATH OF ENDANGERED NORTHERN WHITE RHINOCEROS AT SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK

Since the news of the death of Nola, a critically endangered 41-year-old northern white rhino who died yesterday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was announced, San Diego Zoo Global has received an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy from around the globe.

“There are no words to adequately express the depth of the loss of Nola”, stated Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “All of us at San Diego Zoo Global are grateful for the outpouring of condolences we have been receiving. Nola was truly an amazing animal and her story resonated with people not only in San Diego, but globally. It is a very difficult time for our staff right now as they have worked with and cared for Nola for 26 years. Our hearts are broken over the loss of Nola and knowing her subspecies is now three individuals from extinction makes it even more difficult for of all of us who work with and love rhinos. But, we are not willing to give up.”

Nola

Nola was an iconic animal, not only at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but worldwide. She was one of only four northern white rhinoceros on the planet. For those wanting to honor Nola’s memory, please share condolences, favorite photos or thoughts on Facebook using #Nola4Ever. Monetary donations also can be made to the San Diego Zoo Global Rhino Rescue Center at sandiegozoo.org/rhinos to help fund rhino conservation.

Her death moves her subspecies one step closer to extinction with three northern white rhinos remaining: a 43-year-old male, Sudan, and two females, 26-year-old Najin and 15-year-old Fatu, living under human care at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. These rhinos all have reproductive issues.

Keepers had been watching Nola around-the-clock since Nov. 17 when they noticed she began showing signs of a reduced appetite and activity level. Her condition worsened significantly in the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 22, and the Safari Park’s animal care team made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

Nola arrived at the Safari Park in 1989 on a breeding loan from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. Northern white rhinos were at critically low numbers at the time and San Diego Zoo Global, known for its unprecedented rhino breeding successes, was chosen to try and breed this subspecies. Nola was paired with a northern white rhino male, Angalifu. While the pair bred, Nola never became pregnant. The pair lived in their spacious field habitat at the Safari Park until Angalifu died at the age of 42 in December 2014.

Northern white rhinos have been brought to the brink of extinction due to poaching in Africa. Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails. Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures. In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare and endangered.

While the future is bleak for the existing three northern white rhinos, conservationists at San Diego Zoo Global, Dvur Kralove Zoo, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and collaborators around the world are holding out hope that they can find a way to save the subspecies. Genetic and reproductive materials from 12 northern white rhinos have been stored in the Frozen Zoo at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, with the hope that new reproductive technologies will someday allow northern white rhinos to be reproduced by having southern white rhinos serve as surrogates. These reproductive technologies may also be applied to other rhino species including the critically endangered Javan rhinos and Sumatran rhinos.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

 

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

8

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED NORTHERN WHITE RHINOCEROS, NOLA, DIES AT SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK

It is with great sadness, San Diego Zoo Global announces Nola, a critically endangered 41-year-old northern white rhino died today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Nola, who has resided at the Safari Park since 1989, had been under veterinary care for a bacterial infection, as well as age-related health issues. The source of Nola’s infection was recently identified as a large abscess deep in her pelvic region. On Nov. 13, veterinarians performed a minor surgical procedure on Nola to drain the abscess. The procedure was successful in removing ninety percent of the infected material.

Keepers had been watching Nola around-the-clock since earlier this week when they noticed she began showing signs of a reduced appetite and activity level.  In the last 24 hours Nola’s condition worsened significantly and the animal care team at the Safari Park were maintaining her on intensified treatment efforts.  Early this morning, the team made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

11707642_1229358440414163_3677626671053485245_n

Nola was an iconic animal, not only at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but worldwide. She was one of only four northern white rhinoceros on the planet. Through the years, millions of people learned about Nola and the plight of rhinos in the wild through visits to the Safari Park, numerous media stories and social media posts. Nola leaves a legacy that her keepers and animal care staff hope will continue to help rhino conservation for years to come.

Nola b&w

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide.  The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

This is a devastating loss. Please share your condolences in the comments below, and please join us in the fight against extinction.

2

11 Animals That Feast Together

Mealtime is a profoundly social activity, and humans aren’t the only species that come together to satiate their nutritional needs. As we prepare to give thanks around heaping tables of festive cooking, let’s consider our friends in the animal kingdom that can also appreciate a meal together.

Lions | 11 Animals That Feast Together

A king may lead a pride of lions, but it’s the females that bring home the actual bacon (aka food). Their smaller and lighter physique makes lionesses more agile and faster when it comes to catching prey. Dinner typically comes at dusk and dawn, after the group takes down and sometimes relocates their meal to a safe spot for feasting.

Zebra | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Herd animals, like zebras, mow the fields together as a group, in part because herd immunity makes larger groups of prey harder to attack. Since zebras are grazing and grinding food for hours each day, their teeth have adapted to grow throughout their lifetime.

Meerkat | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Meerkat mobs understand the value in numbers. Even though individuals typically find their own food, meerkats sometimes share the task of capturing and enjoying larger prey, such as lizards. Let’s be honest—humans typically don’t gather their extended family together for every meal (could you imagine?), but special seasonal moments unite our gang in a similar fashion.

Dholes | Animals That Feast Together

Like other dogs, dholes form super packs that hunt together. Packs range from 5 to 12 members, but sometimes groups will join forces to hunt and share prey before separating into their original smaller packs. This is similar to those distant relatives who come home once or twice a year, if only to score a huge holiday meal.

Gorillas | 11 Animals That Feast Together

In contrast, gorilla troops travel, sleep, and eat together on a regular basis. A gorilla’s diet is made up of primarily plant material, so luckily for them, the forest they call home is like a huge restaurant buffet. Habitat destruction is a major threat facing species like gorillas, so we must work together to preserve the forests these primates and many others feast on.

Orangutan | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Orangutans tend to be more solitary and relaxed than other great ape species, like Thanksgiving dinner party on chill mode. Troop members would rather feed together peacefully, keeping an eye on the youngsters, than swing from tree to tree in search of fruit.

Elephants | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Like gorillas, elephants live in close social groups and graze for browse together to satisfy their healthy appetites. Unlike other mammals, elephants grow throughout their lifetime, so you can imagine how large their habitat needs to be. And like gorilla habitats, we have to do a better job at protecting these areas.

Spotted hyenas | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Spotted hyenas do more than just scavenge for meals together. The bigger the clan, the larger its prey—including young rhinos, wildebeests, zebras, and cape buffalo. After they bag a meal, hyenas bring new meaning to the phrase “lick the plate clean” and eat practically every part of the animal, including the skin, hooves, bone, and teeth. Yum!

Vultures | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Vultures tend to look at any meal as a Thanksgiving meal, because they never know when or where the next one will take place. Once carrion is located, the information is relayed quickly and quietly to surrounding birds, and masses land to join the feast. For nature’s cleanup crew, you don’t want to be the last to the table.

Flamingos | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Flamingos may be pretty in pink, but large swaths of birds, sometimes referred to as a flamboyance, share the same shallow muck during mealtimes. In other words, every bird double dips. Their eating habits involve a lot of backwash, but their bills are specifically designed to filter out mud and trap tiny morsels, including algae, diatoms, and small aquatic crustaceans.

Przewalski's horse | 11 Animals That Feast Together

Mongolian wild horses, aka Przewalski’s horses, live in distinct social groups that spend large amounts of time grooming one another. When they aren’t reinforcing social bonds and keeping each other clean and tidy, members all graze and rest together, too.

 

Join the conversation: Which animals would you add to this list of social eaters?

 

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, 14 Adorable Baby Animal Facts.