Yesterday, we keepers farewelled Musina Ponga, a Black Rhino affectionately known as Musi by her keepers. Musi was one of the original rhinos brought from Chete National Park in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s and whilst we don’t know her exact age we believe she was well into her 30s.
In recent years Musi’s eyesight had deteriorated and her teeth had become worn, as it happens in the wild for older rhinos. Musi had been on a special diet to make eating easier which had kept her in good condition until recently, when her body condition began to deteriorate recently. We had also noticed a change in her ability to know her way around her paddock as her eyesight deteriorated. It was a difficult decision to make but along with the veterinary staff we decided it was best to allow her to finish her days with dignity. We all spent time with Musi before she was euthanized to say our goodbyes as she was a favourite amongst the Black Rhino keepers.
Musi had never bred as she had reproductive pathology that precluded her from conceiving. Musi did however contribute to our conservation efforts for her species by being one of the two candidates for the oocyte (egg) collection procedure that resulted in Taronga Western Plains Zoo creating the world’s first IVF Black Rhino embryo.
Like all Black Rhinos, Musi made her keepers earn her trust, she loved her browse and bananas. Her horns were the most impressive of all our rhinos. She will be sadly missed by the Black Rhino keeping team but we know she has made a great contribution to a sustainable future for her species.
By Jennifer Conaghan, Supervisor of Black Rhinos