Toronto Zoo mourns death of Asha the rhinoceros

Toronto

Ashakiran, a greater one-horned rhinoceros known to her Toronto Zoo family as Asha, died on Thursday. She was 17 years old.

Ashakiran, a greater one-horned rhinoceros living at the Toronto Zoo, pictured in 2016 with her calf, Nandu. Ashakiran was euthanized on Thursday, March 17, after a long illness.(Toronto Zoo)

Ashakiran, a greater one-horned rhinoceros known to her Toronto Zoo family as Asha, died on Thursday. She was 17 years old.

The Toronto Zoo announced Asha's passing on Saturday morning, nearly 16 years after she first arrived — a zoo transfer carried out to help ensure her species' survival.

In 2016, Asha gave birth to a boy: Nandu. Two years later, she gave birth to another boy: Kiran.

"Asha was a wonderful mother and always patient with Kiran," according to the Zoo, "particularly as he became a rowdy and rambunctious subadult."

Kiran, the youngest calf of Ashakiran, a greater one-horned rhinoceros living at the Toronto Zoo, pictured in 2018. (Toronto Zoo)

The Zoo says Asha's health has been on the decline since the beginning of the year.

In early January, staff noticed the rhino wasn't "acting like herself." She'd become lethargic and wasn't eating, staff said.

For two months, the Zoo says it sampled Asha's bodily fluids daily, "but the results were inconclusive."

Left without answers, it says Asha's team started trying more involved testing. They sought out specialists beyond the Toronto Zoo. After all, it is no easy feat to anesthetize a rhino weighing more than 1,800 kilograms with "very tough skin."

But after a gastrointestinal surgery revealed no definitive answers, the Zoo decided it was time.

"Considering her deteriorating condition despite the best medical care she was given, and since a treatable disease could not be identified during surgery, the Veterinary team, along with her Keepers, made the very hard decision to euthanize her," the Zoo said.

"She was a special part of the Toronto Zoo family and will be very missed."

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