The Aspinall Foundation is deeply saddened to announce the death of Zambezi, a male black rhino from Port Lympne Reserve.
Zambezi was being transported via air from Kent to Tanzania, in partnership with the Grumeti Fund and the Tanzanian government, as part of a programme to repopulate the Serengeti with black rhino.
The cause of death is currently unknown however a full investigation will be carried out as soon as possible.
Zambezi was accompanied by a team from the Grumeti Fund Reserve, alongside one of his dedicated Keepers and a vet from Africa, experienced in the movement of rhinos and other large animals.
The movement of large animals and rhino in particular is not uncommon, 19 black rhinos have been successfully moved from Europe by air to safe havens around the world, in the last few years.
The Aspinall Foundation itself has already successfully translocated 8 black rhinos to Africa from its Kent wild animal parks, which has assisted in boosting the dwindling population of black rhino that are registered as critically endangered in the wild. In addition, these rhinos have successfully mated and are responsible for the birth of at least 15 calves in the last 24 years.
Damian Aspinall, Chairman of The Aspinall Foundation said: ‘Sadly Zambezi passed away on the plane on his way to the Grumeti Reserve in Tanzania. Like everyone at The Aspinall Foundation, I am shocked and devastated by the loss.
We do not yet know what caused his death, but we will, of course, carry out every examination and enquiry possible to see if there are lessons to be learned.
The Aspinall Foundation has previously successfully returned eight black rhinos to their native homelands as its contribution to global efforts to save this truly magnificent species from extinction. Those rhinos have gone on to breed naturally in the wild resulting in at least fifteen births. In other worldwide organisations, 19 black rhinos have been successfully relocated.
The work of our foundation in breeding critically endangered species and returning as many as possible to protected areas in the wild will continue. Overall, we have been hugely successful. It is my firm belief that these animals do not belong in captivity, our long-term goal is to see all zoos phased out or, if they’re not, to see them truly doing conservation work.
Thank you all for your continued support of us and the critical work we do.’