Good Question: Where Do Black Rhinos Go When They Die?

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Last month, the Sedgwick County Zoo lost Eugene, a full-grown Black Rhino. So how does the zoo dispose of an animal weighing thousands of pounds?

Good question.

Eugene, the 32-year-old Black Rhino, passed away last month at the Sedgwick County Zoo. A Black Rhino can weigh up to 6,000 pounds. So how is it disposed? It’s not easy.

In Eugene’s case, the fact that he is such a rare animal, an endangered species, his body is extremely valuable to science. The zoo donated nearly every part of Eugene to further rhino research.

Sedgwick County Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Bill Bryant says, "His reproductive track whet to Cincinnati to harvest sperm. We sent skin biopsy off to track disease in skin. The blood went to several locations. His carcass when to a museum."

Even in death, Eugene will live on, teaching scientists more about the Black Rhino.

“Even after death, these animal are valuable to our scientific knowledge," says Dr. Bryant.

No doubt Eugene is special. But in the world of zoo death, all of the zoo’s more than 3,000 animals are treated equally, no matter what the species.

Dr. Bryant says, "We do full necropsy on even the smallest animal, be it a fish, frog, bird or an elephant. We want to check to make sure the animal died of what we thought it died of, and make sure the animal was in a healthy state."

As for Eugene, his death hasn’t been easy for those who worked closely with him all these years. But it does help to know his passing will now help pass along information that could be helpful to the preservation of the Black Rhino.

"It is very valuable, there are very few Rhino's alive, not to mention entire skeletons. This will be an opportunity to look at an entire Rhino skeleton," says Dr. Bryant.

If you have a good question, send it to me at I’ll do my best to answer your good question every Thursday on KAKE News at 10.

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