Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Dongajuma and her male calf in 2004 Photo by Pip Blackwood

A chapter in a story of conservation success closed today with the passing of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s oldest Black Rhinoceros female, Dongajuma.

Dongajuma was originally rescued from the wild in Zimbabwe in the 1990s to save her from poaching. She was estimated to be 15 when she arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo to be part of a global effort to save her species.

The Zoo’s renowned Black Rhino Breeding Program was part of the International Rhino Foundation’s international breeding program for Black Rhinos. There have now been 12 born at the Zoo including the most recent, a male named Dafari in late April this year.

At Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dongajuma had two calves, establishing her significant role in the program. One of the calves was sadly still born, the other, now a full-grown bull, is at Monarto Zoo in South Australia.

Now about 40 years old, Dongajuma’s regular veterinary checks found a range of age-related health issues, including acute dental disease. Veterinary staff have been treating the dental disease for a long time but, following recent thorough medical exam, decided to humanely euthanize Dongajuma.

Whilst this is very sad for staff, Taronga Western Plains Zoo would like to celebrate Dongajuma’s great contribution to the Black Rhino breeding program which has become even more important in the light of the renewed slaughter of rhinos world-wide to satisfy the hideous trade in rhino horn.

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