‘Deeply a part of Zoo Knoxville’ | Iconic rhino euthanized after health fails

Zoo Knoxville officials are mourning the loss of the iconic white rhino, Polly.
Representatives with Zoo Knoxville says its white rhino, Polly, has died after days of deteriorating health. (Souce: WVLT)
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 3:42 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2022 at 9:09 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Zoo Knoxville officials announced the passing of Polly, a Southern white rhinoceros.

Polly was euthanized Friday morning because of her failing health. The 54-year-old geriatric rhino was being treated for pain and mobility issues related to her old age, zoo officials said.

Her health began to rapidly deteriorate over the past few days, and her care team decided to euthanize her so she would not endure any more suffering.

“The Zoo has been here for 74 years, and Polly was here for 46 of those years,” said Phil Colclough, director of animal care, conservation, and education. “She is deeply a part of Zoo Knoxville. During her reproductive years, she helped make Knoxville one of the most successful breeding programs for Southern white rhinos in the country. Her offspring have gone on to ensure a future for this species. Polly was always an iconic ambassador raising awareness about the toll relentless poaching for illegal wildlife trafficking is taking on wild rhinos in Africa. She left a legacy to be proud of.”

Polly was one of the oldest rhinos in the U.S., officials said. She came to Zoo Knoxville in 1976 and gave birth to 10 calves over her lifetime.

Zoo officials reported all of her children have joined other herds and had progeny of their own.