CINCINNATI - Ipuh, an endangered Sumatran rhino who did his part to help repopulate his species, passed away at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Monday.
The Cincinnati Zoo sent out a release stating Ipuh was euthanized at the approximate age of 33, after spending 22 years of his life in Cincinnati. In late January, zoo officials reported Ipuh's keepers noticed the rhino was not eating all of his food, and that his ability to stand and move declined despite efforts to treat him. Zoo staff determined Monday the most humane decision was to euthanize the animal.
Ipuh became the first male Sumatran rhino in captivity to sire offspring since the 19th century, according to the zoo.
With the help of breakthrough research, Ipuh sired Andalas in 2001, followed by two more calves, Suci (2004) and Harapan (2007). Ipuh even became a grandfather after Andalas sired his own calf in 2012 at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia according to the zoo.
Zoo officials added that Dr. Terri Roth, a CREW scientist, is working to harvest and cryopreserve Ipuh's sperm so that it may be used to artificially inseminate female rhinos to create future generations of the endangered species.
"We think we have it figured out, we think it works pretty well. We have proof that it works in our Indian rhinos, because we've been able to produce calves with frozen sperm," said Dr. Roth.
The life span of a Sumatran rhino is not clear, but Cincinnati Zoo officials said they believe Ipuh was one of the oldest on record prior to his death.
It is estimated that fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos are in the wild. Dr. Roth says poaching and a loss of habitat have caused the number of Sumatran rhinos in the wild to plummet.
Dr. Roth said Ipuh, and the research he's enabled the zoo to perform, will do great things for rhinos around the world.
"With three calves on the ground we have sperm bank down on him that we think we can use to produce pregnancies, so his legacy will live on a long, long time," said Dr. Roth.