Monday, May 23, 2022

Virginia Zoo says goodbye to ‘beloved’ white rhino Alfred

Alfred, a white rhinoceros at the Virginia Zoo, was euthanized this week. (Courtesy of the City of Norfolk)
Alfred, a white rhinoceros at the Virginia Zoo, was euthanized this week. (Courtesy of the City of Norfolk)

Alfred the white rhino, a Virginia Zoo staple for three decades, was euthanized this week due to age-related issues, according to a City of Norfolk press release.

The average life expectancy of white rhinos is 40 years. Alfred was born in 1968, making him one of the oldest white rhinos in captivity, the release said.

“Alfred’s quality of life and welfare have been a top priority of the zoo’s medical team for several months,” Greg Bockheim, executive director of the Virginia Zoo, said. “Ultimately, his recent decline in age-related health problems prompted our animal care staff to make the tremendously difficult decision to euthanize him.”

Alfred had been receiving hydrotherapy treatment as well as medications and antibiotics for osteoarthritis.

When Alfred was born there were more than 70,000 living African rhinos. That number has dipped to fewer than 20,000 and some scientists have predicted that all rhinoceroses could be extinct within the next 20 years.

“Alfred was an incredible ambassador for white rhinos, helping to educate countless zoo visitors over the years about their conservation needs,” Lisa Thompson, zoological manager, said.

Alfred arrived at the Virginia Zoo in the late ’90s after spending time at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va. and The Wilds in Columbus, Ohio. At the Virginia Zoo Alfred first lived in the original Mammal House before moving to the Okavango Delta exhibit with the zoo’s Hartmann’s mountain zebras and Watusi cattle.

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