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article imageOp-Ed: The world should mourn: San Diego Zoo loses Northern white rhino

By Karen Graham     Dec 15, 2014 in Environment
San Diego - The extinction clock is ticking ever-closer to the day when the world will see the very last Northern white rhino pass into extinction. The San Diego Zoo lost Angalifu, a 44-year old Northern white rhino who died of old age on Sunday.
The San Diego Zoo's Safari park curator, Randy Rieches, released a statement saying: "With Angalifu's passing, only five northern white rhinos are left on the planet, including Nola, our elderly female. Angalifu's death is a tremendous loss to all of us"
Angalifu was one of only a handful of Northern white rhinos left in the world. There is one at a zoo in the Czech Republic; three left in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, 155 miles north of Nairobi, Kenya; and one elderly female, Nola, left at the San Diego Zoo.
The Northern white rhino is one of two subspecies of white rhinoceros. There are no members of this subspecies living in the wild. Some researchers have even suggested that the Northern white rhino may even be a separate species, which makes the near extinction of this rhino all the more disturbing.
Attempts at breeding the remaining white rhinos have been difficult. Old age is one ongoing problem, of course, but white rhinos are not very prolific breeders. When a pair does successfully breed, the pregnancy can last from 16 to 18 months. With little or no success so far, experts have made the decision to keep the breed alive using in-vitro fertilization. It is possible to use a Southern white rhino as a surrogate mother in an attempt to bring the subspecies back from the brink of extinction.
Yes, the world should mourn the loss of this one Northern white rhino, just as we should mourn the passing of the any number of animals and plants that disappear from the planet every year. Many people don't realize it, but the extinction of one species can create a "domino-effect" causing further extinctions. This is called the "chains of extinction."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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