SALINE COUNTY —The Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) family is grieving the loss of Joya, the greater-one horned rhino, an iconic species at the zoo since its opening in 1999, according to a media release from the organization.
At 33-years-old, Joya began developing age related issues. RHZ animal care staff and veterinarian have been monitoring his quality of life for the past several months. Most recently he developed lameness in one foot that did not respond to treatment. Because his quality of life was declining rapidly, and to allow him to pass with dignity, it was decided that humanly euthanizing him was the kindest option available.
Joya was the oldest male in the Greater One horned (GOH) rhinoceros’ Species Survival Plan (SSP)* of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The SSP currently manages 78 GOH rhinos at 22 AZA accredited North American facilities. Rolling Hills Zoo was the only zoo in Kansas to house this species.
Born at San Diego Wild Animal Park (SWAP) on May 22, 1988, Joya came to RHZ on April 8, 1995 on loan from SWAP. He was donated in 2020 to RHZ by SWAP.
Arriving at RHZ with Joya was his brother Jaunpur, and white rhino, Uzazi. Jaunpur stayed at RHZ until November 11, 1996 when he was transferred to Baton Rouge Zoo. He is currently living at Lowry Park Zoo and is 31 years old. At the age 30, Uzazi still resides at RHZ. These three were RHZ’s first animals.
“Joya is an iconic species at RHZ, and anyone that has been to the zoo knows him,” said Brenda Gunder, curator. “He has been an incredible representative for his species and he has taught so many of us how to be better caregivers.”