Grandpa Toby the world’s oldest white rhino dies aged 54 after collapsing at Italian zoo

Grandpa Toby the world’s oldest white rhino dies aged 54 after collapsing on his way to bed at Italian zoo

  • The rhino, fondly known as Grandpa Tony, died at the Parco Natura Viva zoo
  • He died after falling to the ground as he walked back to his nighttime shelter
  • Toby will be embalmed and put on display at a science museum in Trento 










The world’s oldest white rhino, fondly known as Grandpa Tony, has died at the age of 54 after collapsing on his way to bed at a zoo in northern Italy.

‘Nonno Toby’ passed away after falling to the ground as he walked back to his nighttime shelter at the Parco Natura Viva on October 6, a zoo near the northern city of Verona.

‘He collapsed on the floor on the way back to his nighttime shelter, and after about half an hour, his heart stopped,’ said Elisa Livia Pennacchioni, the zoo’s spokeswoman. 

Toby will be embalmed and put on display at the MuSe science museum in Trento, where he will join Blanco, a white lion from the zoo who died five years ago, Pennacchioni said. 

The world’s oldest white rhino, fondly known as Grandpa Tony (pictured in 2019), has died at the age of 54 after collapsing on his way to bed at a zoo in northern Italy

'Nonno Toby' passed away after falling to the floor as he walked back to his nighttime shelter at the Parco Natura Viva on October 6, a zoo near the northern city of Verona

‘Nonno Toby’ passed away after falling to the floor as he walked back to his nighttime shelter at the Parco Natura Viva on October 6, a zoo near the northern city of Verona

White rhinos normally live up to 40 years when held in captivity, and up to 30 years in the wild, she said.

The zoo’s CEO Cesare Avesani Zaborra said: ‘We knew it would happen sooner or later, but to greet the last hour of the “good giant”, who has built with us the history of the last half century, remains deeply sad.’

Toby’s death, which follows the passing of his female partner Sugar in 2012, leaves the Parco Natura Viva with one remaining white rhino: Benno, aged 39.

Toby was a southern white rhino – only one of five rhino species that are not considered endangered, with an estimated population of around 18,000, according to the WWF.

However, there are only two examples left of the northern white rhino subspecies who live in Kenya, which are watched round-the-clock by armed guards, the environmental group says.

Toby (pictured in 2017) will be embalmed and put on display at the MuSe science museum in Trento, where he will join Blanco, a white lion from the zoo who died five years ago, Pennacchioni said.

Toby (pictured in 2017) will be embalmed and put on display at the MuSe science museum in Trento, where he will join Blanco, a white lion from the zoo who died five years ago, Pennacchioni said.

White rhinos normally live up to 40 years when held in captivity, and up to 30 years in the wild. Pictured: Toby at the Italian zoo in 2016

White rhinos normally live up to 40 years when held in captivity, and up to 30 years in the wild. Pictured: Toby at the Italian zoo in 2016

Toby was a southern white rhino - only one of five rhino species that are not considered endangered, with an estimated population of around 18,000, according to the WWF

Toby was a southern white rhino – only one of five rhino species that are not considered endangered, with an estimated population of around 18,000, according to the WWF

Rhinos are killed for their horns, highly prized across Asia for traditional and medicinal purposes.

But breeding them is difficult, as a female only gives birth to a calf once every three to four years, after a 16-month pregnancy.

In 2019, the world’s oldest black rhino died aged 57 in a Tanzanian sanctuary after living most of her life in the wild.

The female rhino, named Fausta, is thought to have died of natural causes on December 27, 2019, according to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority.

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