SAN DIEGO – One of the last remaining northern white rhinos died in San Diego Sunday, San Diego Zoo Global announced.
Nola, 41, underwent surgery earlier this fall to relieve an abscess on her hip and had been closely monitored by animal care staff in the months following her surgery.
The zoo has not yet released the cause of the rhino’s death.
In recent months, representatives of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya have held discussions on how to save the northern white rhinoceros species, which is on the brink of extinction.
Only three northern white rhinos are left in the world, a male and two females at the conservancy.
Most of the remaining rhinos are too old to reproduce, according to the zoo.
The zoo’s representatives discussed collaborating with the conservancy on ways to save the species. Northern white rhinos became extinct in the wild in 2008, due to intensified poaching.
Earlier this month, a half-dozen southern white rhinos were brought from South Africa via chartered jet to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as part of the zoo’s effort to save their northern white rhino cousins.
The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research hopes to develop embryos from frozen northern white rhino cells and implant them in the southern white rhinos, which would serve as surrogate mothers.
The southern white rhinos brought to San Diego are all females between the ages of 4 and 7.
Genetic material from a dozen northern white rhinos has been preserved at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, for future reproductive opportunities, zoo officials said.
Nola’s male companion, Angalifu, died at the age of 44 last December. A female northern white rhino also died in July at a zoo in the Czech Republic.