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Candice Rennels | (405) 425-0298 |

OKC Zoo News Releases


The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is sad to announce the death of male Indian rhinoceros, Chandra, 33. Zoo caretakers discovered Chandra in his habitat yard Friday, September 28, at approximately 1 p.m. Chandra arrived at the OKC Zoo in 1990 from the Los Angeles Zoo where he was born.

Like all animals at the OKC Zoo, Chandra receives regular wellness checkups and routine observations from the Zoo’s veterinary and caretaker teams and appeared to be in good health. Friday morning, he was outside grazing in his new habitat yard at Sanctuary Asia and not demonstrating any abnormal behavior. A necropsy (animal autopsy, including histopathology) is being conducted to help determine the cause of death.

Three weeks ago, Chandra and his mate, Niki, 11, officially moved into their home at Sanctuary Asia, the Zoo’s recently dedicated animal expansion, providing more space for endangered species from the Asian continent. Both Chandra and Niki transitioned well into their nearly 5-acre habitat at Sanctuary Asia where they had plenty of room to roam. The rhino habitat also features a state-of-the-art rhino barn designed with four stalls complete with soft, mulch bedding for the rhinos to stand and lay on. The design of this area is an innovative and enriching element of the barn.

“Chandra was an amazing animal and ambassador for his species who connected not only with his caretakers but generations of OKC Zoo guests, and he will be missed,” said Nick Newby, OKC Zoo’s assistant curator of large mammals. “We are dedicated to providing the best care and welfare possible to the animals entrusted to us and unfortunately death is part of this process.”

Niki will continue to be on public view at Sanctuary Asia.

The median life expectancy for Indian rhinos according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)’s Species Survival Statistics is 30.4 years.

Indian rhinos, also known as greater one-horned rhinos, can weigh more than 3,000 pounds. They are herbivores and are known for their tough skin. The OKC Zoo participates in the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), developed by AZA. Through the SSP, Chandra and Niki were a recommended breeding pair based off of their genetic compatibility. In 2014, Niki gave birth to a male rhino, Rupert, her first offspring with Chandra. Rupert moved from the OKC Zoo to Mesker Park Zoo in Indiana, as part of an SSP breeding recommendation.

Native to India and Nepal, the species is currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Through conservation programs, populations over the past century have recovered from under 200 to approximately 2,600 today. However, there is a continuing decline in the quality of their natural habitat and the species continues to be illegally hunted for its horn.

The public is invited to post favorite photos and memories of Chandra on social media at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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