A black rhino has died during a medical procedure to extract its semen to help preserve the critically endangered species.
Kata-Kata, a 28-year-old male rhinoceros, died at the The Zoo de Doue in the town of Doue-la-Fontaine in west-central France‘s Maine-et-Loire department.
Vets tried to extract semen out of the 1.1-tonne rhino in a bid to inseminate a female rhino, Tisa.
The zoo says semen extraction is ‘regularly performed for this endangered species’ if it has fertility problems or when it is necessary to ‘safeguard its genetic potential’.
Kata-Kata had been a star attraction at the zoo for 14 years and the procedure to extract semen reportedly went well.
But while he was sleeping Kata-Kata suffered nerve trauma which stopped him from fully recovering his ability to move. The injury put a strain on his heart and medical staff were unable to save him.
There is hope the zoo will be able to inseminate Tisa with the semen collected.
Tisa gave birth to a baby rhino after mating with Kata-Kata in September 2017, but it only survived a few minutes.
The birth had been highly anticipated as it was a first for a French zoo.
Kata-Kata’s body will go on display at the Museum of Natural History in the city of Bordeaux in the Gironde department of south-western France.
The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is critically endangered with just a few thousand remaining in the wild in Africa, compared with several hundred thousand a century ago.