As one of the few eastern black rhinos in captivity in America, Moyo brought joy to thousands during his short time at the Birmingham Zoo. The six-year-old pachyderm was recently euthanized due to complications following a dental procedure.

The zoo said Moyo underwent anesthesia on Thursday, January 25, to have his teeth ground down and semen collected for "reproductive assessment for possible future artificial insemination."

"Rhinos are a lot like horses with their teeth," Birmingham Zoo director of animal care Dr. Stephanie McCain told WVMT13. "So their teeth will kind of continue to grow, and if they get uneven, they can't chew properly."

Everything appeared to go according to plan. However, after waking up from the anesthesia, the rhino had trouble standing on his own.

"We called in Weil Wrecker Service Thursday mid-day to help lift Moyo onto his legs," Chris Pfefferkorn, president and CEO of the Birmingham Zoo, said in a statement on the zoo's website.

A team from Kansas brought in a metal tripod to help lift Moyo, Pfefferkorn said, but the animal was unable to stand.

"After two days of heroic efforts by dozens of animal experts, Moyo was still unable to stand, and there was nothing left that we could do to help him," he said. "He was euthanized late Friday night, January 26. Our vet team will continue to search for answers for what happened to Moyo so we can learn from this tragic event."

The zoo's Daniel Foundation Alabama Rhino Habitat was renovated in 2022 to make way for Moyo and Kesi, who arrived in Birmingham in June of that year. Kesi remains the zoo's only eastern black rhino. According to the World Wildlife Fund, these rhinos are critically endangered, with less than 7,000 in their native Africa.

To connect with the story's author or comment, email [email protected] or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.