Sad news for the San Francisco Zoo Tuesday as it announced the passing of a rhinoceros who lived at the zoo since 1978.
Gene, who was described as a gentle and friendly black rhinoceros, died yesterday. He was 41-years old.
For the last few months, the zoo's Animal Care and Veterinary staff had been keeping a watchful eye on him because of his decreased appetite and increased lethargy. Recently a blood sample showed that Gene had kidney failure, and medical treatment focused on maintaining a comfortable quality of life for him.
While at the zoo, Gene shared his exhibit with Elly, a female black rhino. He fathered five offspring, three of which are living at other accredited zoos.
Gene was described as being very friendly and a favorite for children.
"We nicknamed him Big Dog," his animal keeper Julie McGilvray explained, "because he loved to be rubbed, either by hand or with a scrub brush, and oftentimes he would lie down and absorb the soothing experience."
Black rhinos like Gene are a critically endangered species. They are often victims of illegal poaching for the two horns they carry on their skull.