White Rhinoceros dies at Toledo Zoo

(TOLEDO) - One of the most beloved animals at the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium was euthanized Thursday because of declining health.

In a news release, Toledo Zoo officials reported that Sam, a 44-year-old white rhinoceros was euthanized due to declining health.

Sam was born at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and arrived in Toledo in 1988. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums says the average life expectancy is 33.9 years.

In a written statement, Toledo Zoo veterinarian Dr. Kirsten Thomas said that "over the past year, we treated multiple on-going medical issues, including arthritis, urinary and gastrointestinal challenges....his medical challenges increased substantially over the last month." She added "it was medically determined that his quality of life would not rebound."

Director of Communications Shayla Bell Moriarty said "Sam was a wonderful ambassador for his endangered species and helped educate many on the plight of rhinos being poached for their ivory horns. He will be dearly missed by all that cared for and loved him."

The Zoo has plans to bring in a new rhinoceros in the near future. Sam's longtime company companion, Lulu, died at age 47 last year.