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Pedro, Europe’s oldest white rhino, dies. Where did he live, what was the cause and how old was he?

It’s the passing of a legend from the animal world and is a reminder of our need to protect species across the globe.

It’s the passing of a legend from the animal world and is a reminder of our need to protect species across the globe.
The Washington PostThe Washington Post via Getty Im

At the age of 54, Pedro, the oldest white rhinoceros in Europe, passed away on Monday at Barcelona Zoo due mainly to his advanced years. The officials at the zoo explained that in recent weeks the animal had been weakening due to his age, and his health had been deteriorating.

The life of Pedro the white rhino

Pedro arrived in Barcelona on 2 December 2003, from another zoo facility. In 1972, he had been transported from South Africa to Spain. Since his arrival at the zoo in the city of Barcelona, his caregivers had described him as a calm and sociable animal. Due to his old age, the animal had been receiving specialised care to alleviate the pain and joint problems he was experiencing.

Considering that the maximum life expectancy of white rhinoceroses is between 40 and 50 years, Pedro could have been one of the oldest specimens of this species among the 800 individuals worldwide. Currently, 339 individuals are registered in the centres of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA).

Thanks to the care provided by those at Barcelona Zoo, not only to Pedro but also to other animals including elephants, which often face similar joint problems, this facility has become a leading space in old age treatments. This medical specialisation has been developed in collaboration with the Centre for Animal Welfare Education at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Pedro: a beacon for an endangered species

Pedro belonged to the subspecies of the southern white rhinoceros, a species classified as near-threatened with extinction on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There is a conservation program for this species by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Despite being in grave danger of extinction due to poaching for rhinoceros horns until recently, it is the species that has best recovered its population in recent years, thanks to the strict protection measures put in place. Until recently, it only lived in South Africa, but has recently been reintroduced into other habitats in regions such as Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.

RIP Pedro