Lincoln Park Zoo Announces Loss Of Renowned Eastern Black Rhinoceros, Maku

WBBM Newsradio Staff
July 10, 2020 - 11:31 am
Maku, a 34-year-old male eastern black rhino at Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Lincoln Park Zoo reported Friday that on July 9 animal care staff made "the difficult, but responsible decision" to euthanize Maku, a 34-year-old male eastern black rhino.

According to the zoo, Maku had recently been experiencing age-related health issues and discomfort that led to reduced mobility, which Veterinary and Animal Care Staff had been closely monitoring and treating to maintain the best possible care for Maku.

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Maku, a 34-year-old male eastern black rhino at Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo

Maku is renowned among the Association of Zoos and Aquariums community as he was the second-oldest eastern black rhino male across North America. Additionally, he has helped sustain the population of critically endangered eastern black rhinos by producing six offspring, additionally resulting in one granddaughter, and a great-grandson.

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“It’s difficult to put into words what Maku has meant not only to our zoo family, but to the community as a whole,” said Curator of Mammals Mike Murray, in a statement. “We’re proud to have his legacy live on through his most recent calf, Romeo, but we will greatly miss his laid-back personality and seeing him wallow in the mud or romp through a fresh snowfall.”

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The zoo said Maku had a very calm demeanor and was eager to participate in training sessions with his keepers and engage with enrichment activities. He was able to participate in his own health care throughout his life and would voluntarily participate in blood draws, radiographs, standing on a scale, and even allow the zoo’s animal care team to perform ‘pedicures’ on his feet.

Maku, a 34-year-old male eastern black rhino at Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo

Maku arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo in 2003. Over the course of his time in Chicago, Maku sired two male offspring as part of the Eastern Black Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan, King and Romeo. King, who currently resides at Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo, was born in 2013, and Romeo, who currently resides at Regenstein African Journey with mom Kapuki, was born in 2019. Ricko, Kapuki, and Romeo, the three resident rhinos at Regenstein African Journey, are doing well, the zoo said in a statement.

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The median life expectancy for eastern black rhinos is 19 years, meaning half of the population dies before and half after 19 years of age.

According to the zoo, eastern black rhinos are a critically endangered species due to poaching for their horns which are made of fibrous keratin. They typically stand up to 12 feet long and five feet high at the shoulder, weighing up to 3,000 pounds. 

The Lincoln Park Zoo family is saddened by this loss.