National Geographic

The death of `Nola` one of the four remaining northern white rhinos  at the San Diego Zoo back in December 2014 further stoked fears that the subspecies is doomed for extinction.

After a series of illnesses, Nola, a 41-year-old female, had to be euthanized by San Diego Zoo staff. Vets had been treating the rhino for a bacterial infection and performed surgery to drain an abscess, but Nola’s condition worsened leading to her hapless death.

“Nola’s legacy will live forever as her death leaves just 3 northern white rhinos on the planet,” the zoo added.

The Above picture is a rare northern white rhino named `Nola` passed away at the San Diego Zoo in December 2014.

Rhinos in the wild have a life expectancy of 35 to 40 years. Nola had been at the San Diego Zoo since 1989, when she arrived from a zoo in what is now the Czech Republic. Only three more northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) remain, all at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, where they are watched over by armed guards 24/7 in response to intense poaching pressure.

The three remaining rhinos (two females, one male) are considered too old to reproduce naturally. However, scientists have harvested sex cells from the individuals and are planning in vitro fertilization in a related southern white rhino surrogate in a last-ditch effort to save the subspecies. That effort is expected to take more than a decade.

Rhinoceros populations in both Asia and Africa have suffered for decades due to habitat loss and poaching, which is spurred mainly by demand for their horns as an ingredient in many traditional Asian medicines (which Western scientists say do not work).

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