Critically Endangered Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Returns to the Field

Nola, a critically endangered 40-year-old female northern white rhino, who has been under close medical watch for the past 11 days in a boma at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is showing signs of improved health and returned to her 65-acre field enclosure today where she was greeted by Cape buffalo that also share her habitat.

The elderly Nola was placed under veterinary care on Saturday, Dec. 27, after her keepers noticed she had reduced appetite and activity levels and had a thick nasal discharge. To provide the opportunity for optimal health, Nola was moved to a heated enclosure inside the South African Plains field exhibit to provide her comfort from the recent chilly weather and allow the animal care team to keep close watch over her. Veterinarians determined that, in addition to Nola’s age-related issues, she has a sinus infection and they are treating her with antibiotics.


Nola is one of only five northern white rhinos in existence.

Keepers report Nola was pleased to be back in the field where she has ample space to exercise and can enjoy time with her companion, a 45-year-old male southern white rhino named Chuck.

Nola is one of just five northern white rhinos left in the world. Three other northern white rhinos are at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The five remaining rhinos have not been able to breed. Poaching for its horn has brought the northern white rhino to such critically low numbers.

Photo taken on Jan. 8, 2015, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.