The Cincinnati Zoo suffered an enormous loss on Sunday when Suci, a Sumatran rhino, died of a genetic disease. With only nine Sumatran rhinos left in captivity, Suci's death is major blow to what many believe is the most endangered large mammal species on Earth.
The downfall of the Sumatran rhino can be pinned in part on the logging and palm oil industry, which destroyed much of the species' habitat. Poachers are also to blame because the rhinos' horns are used in traditional Asian medicine. There are fewer than 100 of the species left in the wild, nearly all of them on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra.
The Cincinnati Zoo has been instrumental in saving the species and was the first facility to successfully breed the rhinos in captivity.
"The international community has a great challenge on its hands," said Terri Roth, director of the Cincinnati Zoo's Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife. "If we don't act quickly, and boldly, the loss of this magnificent animal will be among the great tragedies of our time."
Suci was 10 years old and being treated for hemochromatosis, a disease causing too much iron to amass in the blood, when she died. The same disease killed her mother 2009.