54-Year-Old Grandpa Toby, the World's Oldest Known White Rhino, Dies at Italian Zoo

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A handout photograph realesed by the zoo "Parco Natura Viva", on October 12, 2021 shows Toby, the world's oldest white rhino, in its enclosure at the at the zoo in Bussolengo, near Verona, in northern Italy, on April 18, 2019.
A handout photograph realesed by the zoo "Parco Natura Viva", on October 12, 2021 shows Toby, the world's oldest white rhino, in its enclosure at the at the zoo in Bussolengo, near Verona, in northern Italy, on April 18, 2019.

Parco Natura Viva/AFP via Getty

Parco Natura Viva, an Italian zoo near Verona, is mourning the loss of a beloved resident.

On Monday, the zoo announced the death of their 54-year-old white rhino, "Nonno Toby" (Grandpa Toby), on Facebook, including a video of the late animal in the post.

At the time of his death on October 6, Toby was the oldest known white rhino in the world.

"He collapsed on the floor on the way back to his nighttime shelter, and after about half an hour, his heart stopped," Elisa Livia Pennacchioni, a spokesperson for Parco Natura Viva, told AFP about Toby's sudden death.

She added that Toby's advanced age is uncommon for both captive and wild white rhinos. The species has an average lifespan of 30 years in the wild, and white rhinos usually live up to 40 years in captivity.

A handout photograph realesed by the zoo "Parco Natura Viva", on October 12, 2021 shows Toby, the world's oldest white rhino, in its enclosure at the at the zoo in Bussolengo, near Verona, in northern Italy, on April 18, 2019.
A handout photograph realesed by the zoo "Parco Natura Viva", on October 12, 2021 shows Toby, the world's oldest white rhino, in its enclosure at the at the zoo in Bussolengo, near Verona, in northern Italy, on April 18, 2019.

Parco Natura Viva/AFP via Getty

After Toby's death, Parco Natura Viva is now caring for one white rhino, a 39-year-old rhino named Benno.

The zoo is donating Toby's body to science. He will be preserved and displayed at The MUSE, a science museum in Trento, where Parco Natura Viva's late white lion, Blanco, is displayed.

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According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, white rhinos are considered "near threatened," with an estimated 10,080 left in the wild. The white rhino population comprises two genetically different subspecies, per the World Wildlife Fund — southern white rhinos and northern white rhinos.

Southern white rhinos make up 98.8% of the white rhino population, according to WWF. There are only two known wild northern white rhinos left in the wild, both female, and they are protected by guards around the clock.