Beloved black rhino dies after 17 years at Baton Rouge Zoo

BATON ROUGE, La. — A beloved black rhinoceros died last week at a Louisiana zoo, one month before her 35th birthday.

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According to a news release from the Baton Rouge Zoo, Gemstone, a rhino who had been at the zoo since 2006, died of old age on May 30.

Zoo officials wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday that it was “with a heavy heart” that Gemstone died due to “age-related factors.”

Gemstone was born on July 2, 1989, zoo officials said. She was originally owned by the San Francisco Zoo and came to Baton Rouge as a breeding loan transfer from the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates on the Peace River near Punta Gorda, Florida.

Gemstone gave birth to several calves during her lifetime, WBRZ-TV reported. One calf, Zuri, was born at the Baton Rouge Zoo in 2009, zoo officials said. Zuri now resides at the Cincinnati Zoo.

“According to the AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) life expectancy statistics, the average median life expectancy for an eastern black rhinoceros is 19 years, Sean Perry, the veterinarian at the Baton Rouge Zoo, said in a statement. “Gemstone lived a long and healthy life largely due to the professional care and attention given by the Baton Rouge Zoo animal care and veterinary team.”

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