Europe’s Oldest White Rhino Passes Away, Surpassing Life Expectancy by Almost 20 Years

Europe has bid farewell to its oldest white rhinoceros, Pedro, who recently succumbed to complications associated with old age. Remarkably, Pedro was believed to be 54 years old, significantly surpassing white rhinos’ typical lifespan, typically ranging from 35 to 40 years.

Pedro’s journey began in 1972 when he was transported from South Africa to Spain when the regulations governing the movement of exotic animals were far less stringent than today. Eventually, he found his home at the Barcelona Zoo in 2003 after authorities seized him from his previous owner.

As one of the zoo’s most senior residents, Pedro received specialized geriatric care to manage age-related ailments like joint pain. Unfortunately, despite the dedicated efforts of the zoo’s caregivers and veterinarians, Pedro’s deteriorating health could not be reversed.

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White rhinos are known for their substantial size, with some individuals reaching heights of nearly two meters (6 feet 7 inches), lengths exceeding four meters (13 feet 1 inch), and weighing more than 3,500 kilograms (551 stone). Historically, white rhinos were primarily found in the wild in South Africa. However, recent reintroduction efforts have expanded their presence to other countries, including Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified white rhinos as a near-threatened species, indicating they may face endangerment shortly. A report from September 2023 estimated that there were approximately 16,803 white rhinos worldwide, with poaching a significant threat to their survival.

White rhinos typically have an average life expectancy of 46 to 50 years in the wild. However, many fall victim to poaching activities driven by the demand for their horns in pseudo-medicinal products.

Barcelona Zoo director Antoni Alarcón reflected on Pedro’s significance, stating that Pedro “represented one of the most significant purposes of the facility, which is to be a refuge for animals that require special protection.” He described Pedro as a “calm and sociable animal, with a positive disposition and always willing to interact with his caregivers.”

The passing of Pedro has left a void at the zoo, with visitors expressing their fond memories of him, including one who said, “What a shame, my daughter loved him so much. We will miss you, Pedro.”


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