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World’s Oldest Rhino Dies in Italian Zoo at 54 Years Old




  • Grandpa Toby the white rhino died in the zoo 
  • He collapsed and fell to the ground upon walking back to his shelter 
  • He is preserved and put into a Science Museum in Trento, Italy 

Rhinos are one of the rarest animals existing in today’s generation. That’s why they are taken into a shelter to preserve their kin. You may ask a kid watching dinosaurs in the movies or seeing it in the pictures or book. Rhinos are like the dinosaurs of today. 

In this story, Grandpa Toby, a 54-year-old white rhino passed away when it fell down on the ground as it traversed back home to Northern Italy zoo. 

On October 6 at the zoo near the northern city of Verona, Italy, Grandpa Toby was happily spending his daily walk when he suddenly collapsed and fell to the ground. He was checked immediately by some people who saw the incident but found out that it has no life. 

The zoo’s spokesman in the name of Elisa Livia Pennacchioni reported: 

“He collapsed on the floor on the way back to his nighttime shelter, and after about half an hour, his heart stopped”   “Toby will be embalmed and put on display at the MuSe science museum in Trento, where he will join Blanco, a white lion from the zoo who died five years ago”

Pennacchioni further said. 

“White rhinos normally live up to 40 years when held in captivity, and up to 30 years in the wild,”

This unfortunate event has pierced the heart of the public. Many people who happen to visit and meet Grandpa Toby have been disheartened especially the zookeepers who have witnessed the life and beauty of the oldest rhino. The world lost another special giant being. 

“We knew it would happen sooner or later, but to greet the last hour of the “good giant”, who has built with us the history of the last half-century, remains deeply sad,”

said Cesare Avesani Zaborra, the CEO of the zoo where the rhino lived. 

Currently, Parco Natura Viva has only one remaining white rhino – Benno, 39 years old after the passing of Grandpa Toby which followed its wife Sugar, also a white Rhino who died in 2012.   

Picture of old rhino laying down. Not actually of nonno toby the world's oldest rhino.
Photo by Michal Knotek from Pexels

According to WWF, an environmental group, Grandpa Toby was a southern white rhino – only one of five rhino species that are not considered endangered, with an estimated population of around 18,000.  

“However, there are only two examples left of the northern white rhino subspecies who live in Kenya, which are watched round-the-clock by armed guards,”

the environmental group said. 

Normally, the life span of a white rhino is about 40 years when held in captivity and at least up to 30 years in the wild. They are truly very special animals because of their famous horns which are being included in collections of people. Moreover, their horns are highly valued all over the world and are used for medicinal purposes or even ornaments and they are paid for an atrocious prize. 

On the other hand, in terms of rhino reproduction, breeding is an arduous process. It really takes a very long period of time because a female rhino only gives birth to a calf once every three to four years right after its 16-month pregnancy. This is also the reason why their species are few and far between. 

Aside from Grandpa Toby who was 54 years old, in 2019, the world’s oldest black rhino died at the age of 57 in a Tanzanian sanctuary. But this black rhino did not live in a shelter. And it’s really interesting how it survived in the wild for 54 long years.  

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