Zookeepers mourn death of 36-year-old white rhinoceros

Zookeepers are mourning the death of a white rhinoceros.

Sula, who has died aged 36, was described as a “larger-than-life character” by staff at Marwell Zoo near Winchester, Hampshire.

The female rhino first arrived at the zoo on May 6 1988.

Team leader Phil Robbins said: “Sula has been a big part of my life for the last 28 years. She was an amazing, loving animal who would always come running for attention whenever I stepped into the house.

“Adjusting to life without her is going to take time for all the keepers that cared for her.”

Sula had been unwell for a few weeks with abdominal pain and an issue with her teeth, which led to the zoo’s veterinary team having to anaesthetise her to investigate the problem.

Sula, a female rhino who who has died aged 36
Sula, a female rhino who who has died aged 36 (Marwell Wildlife/PA)

A spokeswoman said: “They identified a dental issue, which was rectified, and Sula initially made a good recovery but sadly took a turn for the worse and the incredibly tough decision to euthanise her was made late on Tuesday night.”

Darren Ives, senior animal keeper said: “She was a larger-than-life character and always dependable to make even the worst days feel better.

“Sula has always been in the paddock in front of Marwell Hall in the centre of the park and I think she will always remain in the centre of the hearts of the people who have had the pleasure of meeting and working with her.”

Animal keeper Lisa Keywood said Sula will be missed by fellow rhino Kiri, who arrived at the zoo in the same year.

She said: “All the rhinos, especially Kiri, and all who worked with her are going to be lost without her. It’s already incredibly quiet in the house.”

The zoo spokeswoman added: “The rhino team will be keeping a very close eye on Kiri to ensure she is coping following the loss of her closest companion.

“Reassuringly, the two younger females have already been seen grazing with Kiri, waiting for her, and all four of them have been seen in the mud wallowing together.”