Toronto Zoo announces death of 17-year-old female greater one-horned rhinoceros

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The Toronto Zoo has announced the death of a 17-year-old female greater one-horned rhinoceros named Ashakiran. 

The zoo says in a news release that it made the “difficult” decision to euthanize Ashakiran, also known as “Asha,” after two months of intensive care. 

It says in early January, staff noticed Asha was not acting like herself and showed signs of decreased appetite and lethargy.

Despite numerous tests, the veterinary team could not land on a firm diagnosis for the rhino, but indicated there was a possibility of serious gastrointestinal issues. 

As her appetite continued to decline, the team decided to perform an intestinal biopsy — a high risk procedure in rhinos — to reach a more definitive diagnosis. 

The zoo says the surgery proved to be more challenging than expected and a treatable disease could not be identified during the procedure. 

Considering Asha’s deteriorating condition, despite the medical care she received, the zoo says the veterinary team and her keepers decided to euthanize her on Thursday. 

It says pathologists from the Ontario Veterinary College joined the veterinary team the following day to perform a necropsy to determine the cause of Asha’s illness, and further testing will be done in the next few weeks to determine the cause of the thickening of the rhino’s small intestines. 

Asha, who was born on Sept. 15, 2004 at the Buffalo Zoo and came to the Toronto Zoo in late 2006, gave birth to a male named Nandu in 2016 and to a second male calf, Kiran, in 2018, who continues to live at the Toronto Zoo with his father Vishnu. 

The zoo called Asha “a special part of the Toronto Zoo family” and says she will be “very missed.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2022. 

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

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