A black rhinoceros has died following a medical intervention to extract its semen to help preserve the critically endangered species.
Kata-Kata, a 28-year-old male rhino, died at the The Zoo de Doue in the town of Doue-la-Fontaine in west-central France’s Maine-et-Loire department.
Vets had decided to extract semen from the 1.1-tonne rhino, which had lived for 14 years at the zoo where it was a star attraction, in a bid to inseminate a female rhino, Tisa.
The zoo says the act is “regularly performed for this endangered species” if it has fertility problems or when it is necessary to “safeguard its genetic potential”.
The procedure reportedly went well, under anaesthesia, but while he was sleeping it off, Kata-Kata suffered nerve trauma which prevented him from fully recovering his ability to move.
That put a strain on the rhinoceros’s heart and the zoo’s medical team were unable to save him.
The zoo hopes to perpetuate his lineage by successfully inseminating Tisa with the semen collected.
In September 2017, Tisa gave birth to a baby rhino, after mating with Kata-Kata, but it only survived for a few minutes. The birth had been highly anticipated as it was a first for a French zoo.
Kata-Kata’s body will go on display at the Museum of Natural History in the city of Bordeaux in the Gironde department of south-western France.
The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is critically endangered with just a few thousand remaining in the wild in Africa, compared with several hundred thousand a century ago.