Jacob the rhinoceros that had been living in a French zoo has died and his autopsy has now revealed the death was linked to stress and hunger caused by living in captivity.
The death of the rare black rhinoceros is yet another one linked to a scandal after it was revealed that in the wild they typically live until over 50, yet in captivity most die before the age of 20.
Jacob died on 31st December 2019 at the Pont-Scorff zoo in France’s western Morbihan department in the Brittany region, but the results of his autopsy have only now just been made public.
They reportedly show that the Rhinoceros was malnourished, was suffering from the cold temperatures, had severe mouth sores and was stressed out by captivity. The condition of his mouth is believed to have hampered his ability to eat food.
The members of Rewild, an association which brings together seven NGOs, bought the zoo in Pont-Scorff at the end of last year with the aim of rehabilitating the animals. They reportedly found them in a bad state and want to reintroduce them into their natural environment.
All of the symptoms have reportedly been linked to the Black Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros bicornis) being held captive, with Rewild posting the conclusion of the autopsy on social media.
According to Rewild, a captive Black Rhinoceros has an average life expectancy of just 18 years, compared to up to 50 in the wild. They say that since 2000, 56 percent of rhinoceroses held captive have died before their 20th birthday.
In their lengthy social media post, Rewild, who took control of the zoo just 15 days before Jacob’s death, said: “Autopsy Findings: Captivity Killed Jacob, The Black Rhino At Pont Scorff Zoo.
“On 31st December 2019, Jacob, the black rhino from Pont Scorff, born in captivity, died 15 days after REWILD’s arrival at the head of the zoo.
“Upon our arrival, the veterinarian in charge of his medical follow-up explains to us that Jacob is old, very badly in shape and undoubtedly living out his last moments. The question of euthanasia is even brought up.
“But Jacob is not old, he is 28 years old. In the wild, rhinos can live up to 50 years. On 27th December 2019, the oldest black rhino died of natural causes at a sanctuary in Tanzania after spending most of her life in the wild. She was 57 years old. According to data collected in zoos, of the 173 black rhinos kept in captivity since 2000, 97 died before the age of 20 (or 56.07 percent), 34 of whom even before reaching their first birthday (20 percent).
“We get Jacob’s medical records and find out that he’s been sick for years.”
Further down in their post, Rewild said: “In the wild, rhinos travel up to 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) per day and can run up to 50 kph (31 mph). Adapted to the hot climate of Africa, he will have experienced cold, confinement, infections, deficiencies, stress and pain. And he is far from being the only case.”
Rewild concluded their post by saying: “All the veterinarians who intervened on Jacob’s case knew the nature of his pathologies and their character directly attributable to captivity. They knew that many rhinos died before him. None have started to begin to question the merits of keeping critically endangered animals in zoos, with captivity making them vulnerable to infection and disease, with them then ageing and dying die prematurely.
“It is high time that society took up these subjects and that a real debate began on the justifications for condemning these animals to a life of suffering and confinement, under the pretexts of education or conservation, which collapse in light of the facts.”
Netizen ‘Ali Nana’ said: “Pffff! What if experimented with keeping captive these men who kept him prisoner by giving them food unsuitable for their organism, preventing them from walking and subjecting them to excessive temperatures?”
And ‘Pierre Rapin’ added: “We must put an end to all these animal prisons which are only used to bring in cash. We must ban all zoos, animal and marine parks, they have nothing to do in captivity and do not have to work for humans.”
While ‘Jimmy Gosset’ said: “In the end, zoos are poachers in broad daylight!!”
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