Nabiré, one of the five remaining white rhinoceros in the world, is no longer with us.
Her death was caused by a ruptured cyst, according to a press release from the open-air Dvůr Králové Zoo, about 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Prague, where she lived since she was bred in captivity in 1983.
Northern white rhinos have been poached to the very brink of extinction to meet the demand for their horns. They are highly sought-after in parts of East Asia and the Arabian peninsula due to their purported—but entirely illusory—medicinal benefits.
“It is a terrible loss. Nabiré was the kindest rhino ever bred in our zoo,”said zoo director Přemysl Rabas. “It is not just that we were very fond of her. Her death is a symbol of the catastrophic decline of rhinos due to a senseless human greed. Her species is on the very brink of extinction.”
There is only one surviving male white rhino: A 42-year-old named Sudan who is under around-the-clock armed surveillance by a team of armed rangers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya.
Nabiré was among the animals that participated in the zoo’s efforts to breed white rhinos in captivity, but due to her cysts in her right ovary, she could not conceive naturally. Her left ovary, however, did not have cysts and the zoo hoped that she would be able to donate eggs for an artificial embryo. Healthy ovary and tissue samples were removed from Nabiré’s body immediately following her death and have been transported to a specialized lab in Italy, the zoo said.
Nabiré’s death comes just one day after Cecil the Lion, a tourist favorite in Zimbabwe, was killed by an American dentist. Lions and white rhinos alike are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.