07/10/2013 11:43 EDT

Charlie, White Rhino At Greater Vancouver Zoo, Dead After Problems Eating


The Greater Vancouver Zoo is mourning the loss of a longtime resident, a Southern White Rhinoceros who could no longer eat because he had "outlived the lifespan of his teeth."

"Charlie" was euthanized Monday after he struggled with eating and drinking. Veterinarian Dr. Richard Burton tried various means to nourish him but the zoo ultimately decided to end the rhino's life, said a Tuesday news release.

"It is impossible to adequately express the emotional toll caused by the need to terminate their existence. And even more so, to be the actual instrument of that termination," Burton said in the news release.

Charlie was generally in good condition when he was euthanized but he could no longer make full use of his teeth, resulting in a blockage in his esophagus, veterinary pathologist Dr. Chelsea Himsworth said.

The rhinoceros arrived at the Greater Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove in 1998 after living at Kaleden's Okanagan Game Farm. He was 46 years old when he died. The zoo said that the normal lifespan of a rhino in captivity is anywhere between 25 and 45 years.

Mourners are asked to post memories and photos of Charlie on the zoo's Facebook page, while cards are also being accepted at the front gate.

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