Remembering Sudan, the Last Male Northern White Rhino
Today’s Doodle remembers the last surviving male northern white rhinoceros, Sudan, who was known as an affectionate “gentle giant.” On this day in 2009, Sudan and three other northern white rhinos arrived at their new home in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. Sudan, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 45 (the equivalent of 90 in human years), serves as a cherished symbol of ongoing rhino conservation efforts and a stark reminder of the danger of extinction that so many species face today.
Sudan was born in Shambe, in what is today, South Sudan in 1973 and is believed to be the last northern white rhino born in the wild. In 1976, he was taken to Dvůr Králové Zoo in then Czechoslovakia, where he grew to be 6 feet tall and a whopping 5,000 lbs (roughly the weight of a midsize car) and fathered two daughters.
In 2009, after the northern white rhino was declared extinct in the wild, four rhinos including Sudan, his daughter Najin, and his granddaughter Fatu were transferred back to their native African habitat. Conservationists hoped that the natural Kenyan environment of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy would encourage breeding among the rhinos, but within several years, veterinarians came to the conclusion that natural reproduction would most likely not be possible.
Yet there is still hope, as scientists work to develop in vitro fertilization techniques to save the subspecies from the brink of extinction. For now, Sudan’s legacy rests with Najin and Fatu, the world’s final two northern white rhinoceros.
Every year, more than 100 environmental activists are murdered throughout the world. […] A 2020 incident saw several rangers murdered in the Congo Rainforest by poaching squads. Occurrences like this are relatively common, and account for a large number of deaths. [source]
When I served as Happy Hollow Park and Zoo’s “Web Wrangler”, one Halloween I created an online version of their Extinct Graveyard. One of the now-extinct species was the Carrier Pigeon. Of all the background stories I researched for each animal, this was the one that brought me to tears: “About September 1, 1914, the last known passenger pigeon, a female named Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. She was roughly 29 years old, with a palsy that made her tremble. Not once in her life had she laid a fertile egg.” [source]
Imagine cradling an animal in your hands KNOWING that you’re holding the last of its kind…
Top 10 Extinct Animals
(West African Black Rhinoceros, Baiji White Dolphin, Pyrenean Ibex, Passenger Pigeon, Tasmanian Tiger, Stellers Sea Cow, Great Auk, Dodo, Woolly Mammoth, Sabre-toothed Cat)
22 Extinct Animals We’ve Lost in the Past 150 Years
(In addition to the list above: Bramble Cay Melomys, Northern White Rhino, Spix Macaw, Quagga, Golden Toad, Zanzibar Leopard, Po’ouli, Madeiran Large White, Carolina Parakeet, Tecopa Pupfish, Falkland Islands Wolf, Javan Tiger, Round Island Burrowing Boa, Pinta Island Tortoise, Dutch Alcon Blue Butterfly, Schomburgk’s Deer)
List of Extinct Big Cats, From Prehistoric Times to Now
(Zanzibar Leopard, Javan Tiger, Barbary Lion, Caspian Tiger, Bali Tigers, Cape Lions, Smilodon, American Lion, Scimitar-Toothed Cat, American Cheetah, Siberian Cave Lion, European Lion, Trinil Tiger, Giant Cheetah, Xenosmilus, Cave Lion, European Jaguar, Longdan Tiger, Machairodus kabir, Dinictis)