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Rhino Resource Center: Rhino Forums > Rhinos in Captivity > Zoos > Emi died

Posted by: Kees Sep 6 2009, 03:28 PM
This message was received on Sunday 6 September 2009 from Susie Ellis of the International Rhino Foundation. Sad news indeed for the entire zoo community.

Dear Rhino Colleagues,
I am writing to let you know that ‘Emi’, the breeding female Sumatran rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo, died yesterday morning [Saturday 5 September 2009].

As Dr. Terri Roth conveyed to Indonesian colleagues in May, the Cincinnati Zoo had hoped that Emi would gain weight after weaning her third calf, Harapan, in September 2008, so that she would be ready for breeding this summer. Emi, like all the Sumatran rhinos at the Zoo, was monitored very closely. She went through a period with reduced appetite and weight loss during late spring and throughout the summer, but showed no other symptoms. Because Emi was so valuable, concerned zoo veterinarians performed a complete physical exam with blood work in early April. Nothing unusual was found on the physical exam, but blood work indicated some subtle changes in her liver. Veterinary staff continued to conduct a battery of diagnostic tests and consulted with numerous rhino experts worldwide in an attempt to determine a cause for her clinical signs.

In May, Emi's attitude improved, her appetite picked up, and she gained some weight back. However, overall, her appetite and attitude had been inconsistent and veterinarians continued to pursue a conclusive diagnosis. Staff had been cautiously optimistic when Emi’s appetite recently resumed and she again began to slowly gain weight. Her death was not expected, and a thorough post mortem exam has been performed. Tissue samples will be submitted to a veterinary pathologist to help more definitively determine a cause of death.

While we are deeply distressed by this sad news, we are heartened by the fact that Emi’s first calf, Andalas, now resides at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park, which we believe is now poised for breeding success. The Cincinnati Zoo has worked closely with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, Yayasan Badak Indonesia, the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF), as well as other zoos, to protect Sumatran rhinos in the wild and also to propagate Sumatran rhinos in captivity. The strength of this international collaboration lies in the unique partnership among these key institutions, with transparency and commitment to our mutual goal of conserving this critically endangered species. True to the spirit of this partnership, we will share the results of Emi’s necropsy with the Ministry of Forestry and other partners as soon as the final results are available.

Our collaboration is deeply valued by the IRF, the Cincinnati Zoo and other IRF-affiliated institutions, and we look forward to continuing our ongoing, productive work to conserve this critically endangered species for future generations.

Thank you very much for your consideration. We will provide more information as it becomes available, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you should have immediate questions or concerns'

Posted by: RhinoKing Sep 17 2009, 01:22 AM
I live in Cincinnati and have spent numberless hours visiting Emi and the Sumatran exhibit. She was an amazing Rhino so well mannered and you could see what a great mother she was. Here's a picture I took shortly after Harry was put on display; to say she will be missed is an understatement!!!


Posted by: Kees Dec 5 2009, 12:33 PM
Cincinnati Zoo has now more news:

Veterinary pathologists from the Cincinnati Zoo say liver failure is to blame for the death of Emi, a 21-year-old female Sumatran rhino who died on September 5th.

Dr. Mark Campbell, Director of Animal Health at the zoo says, "Emi's liver failed due to a disease process known as hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis, or iron storage disease, is a pathological condition associated with excessive iron deposits in tissues. It has been recognized in several wild animal species in captivity including African black rhinos, as well as in man and domestic animals. We believe Emi is the first documented case of hemochromatosis mortality in a Sumatran rhino."

Iron storage disease has been thought possible in Sumatran rhinos because of elevated serum iron levels and iron deposits in tissues observed at several post-mortem exams. Significant data has been collected from all rhino species regarding serum iron levels but interpretation of this data and the complexity of iron storage disease makes diagnosis, prevention and treatment difficult.

"It is our hope that despite the great sadness of Emi's death, what we learn from it may help other Sumatran rhinos," said Dr. Terri Roth, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo's Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW). "Because our knowledge and care of this species have improved, the rhinos are living much longer, and we can expect to encounter diseases we have not seen previously in this species."