The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Daisy Mae, the Zoo’s 48-year-old Southern white rhinoceros. “This is an incredibly difficult day for staff as you might expect,” said Zoo President Don Hutchinson. “Daisy has been a fixture here at the Zoo since the opening of the African Watering Hole in 1992, and she has been a favorite of visitors since day one. We will miss her tremendously.”

At age 48, Daisy was the oldest mammal at the Zoo and one of the six oldest Southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) in the United States. It is estimated that she was born in 1969 in Umfolozi National Park in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa. She was brought to the United States in 1973, and lived at Kings Island Park in Ohio in the now-defunct Lion Country Safari section before coming to the Maryland Zoo in 1992. “Daisy was an awe inspiring rhino whose presence filled the African Watering Hole from her first day at the Zoo,” continued Hutchinson. “Over the years our dedicated animal and veterinary teams have done a marvelous job of caring for her, especially as she aged.”

“Daisy was feisty, and she really responded well to the training programs established by staff, which allowed the African Watering Hole team and medical staff to monitor and treat her age-related problems,” said Carey Ricciardone, mammal collection and conservation manager. “Unfortunately, her condition progressed rapidly over the past few weeks, restricting her ability to move around the night barn and the Watering Hole exhibit comfortably. After many discussions regarding her health and welfare, the decision was made to humanely euthanize her due to her declining quality of life.”

“For a geriatric rhino, Daisy was fairly healthy for the past many years despite the gradual onset of age-related arthritis and kidney disease,” stated Dr. Ellen Bronson, head veterinarian at the Zoo. “Medically, we have been able to manage and slow the progression of both of these diseases with success over the past few years. However, Daisy was experiencing more difficulty standing and walking recently, which let us know that it was time to make the most difficult decision we have to make as zoo and veterinary professionals.”

The Zoo’s male white rhino, 21-year-old Stubby, will continue to reside in the African Watering Hole with the zebra and ostrich. “We are working with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) to assess the possibility of bringing in another female rhino as a companion for Stubby,” continued Ricciardone. “But Daisy will always remain in our hearts as an incredible ambassador for her species and a reminder of the protection rhinos desperately need in the wild.”

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