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Loss of a dear friend - Charlie



Aldergrove – Everyone at the Greater Vancouver Zoo is deeply saddened to inform the community that we have lost a dear friend – Southern White Rhinoceros “Charlie” was humanely euthanized late yesterday.

From early in the morning until late in the evening yesterday every effort was made by a team of our dedicated animal care staff to attempt to determine why Charlie was struggling while eating and drinking. Dr. Burton and the team tried numerous methods before the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize our friend.

A full necropsy was performed on Charlie today by Dr. Chelsea Himsworth, an independent Veterinary Pathologist with the BC Animal Health Centre stated that, “Charlie was in excellent condition. Unfortunately, he had outlived the lifespan of his teeth. This prevented him for being able to chew his food properly, which eventually resulted in a blockage in the esophagus.”

Charlie had a special connection with many people over the years, and no words can truly express how you feel when you lose such a dear member of your family. Although our veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Burton, who was extremely close to Charlie had this to say about him “When one of my most beloved animal friends has finally reached the end of his or her life 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. So it is with an extremely heavy heart that I say goodbye to my very dear friend, Charlie.  I feel immensely privileged to have known you for the past decade and a half, and feel profoundly depressed that so few will ever experience the same intense relationship we had.  My words seem grossly inadequate, and, perhaps, a little self-centred, so permit me to modify a similar sentiment once articulated by Aldo Leopold …. For those who have had such a relationship, no explanation is necessary.  For those who haven’t, no explanation is possible. Rest at peace my old friend.”

In 1998 Charlie came to the Greater Vancouver Zoo from the Okanagan Game Farm. Charlie was approximately 46 years old and our oldest ambassador at the Zoo, described by many as a “gentle soul”.  The average life span of a white rhinoceros in captivity is 25-45 years.

Rhinoceros are threatened because they constantly have to face habitat loss and poachers. They are poached for their tough skin and horn.  At one point in time 6 grams of rhino horn was worth $10,000.  The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the Southern White Rhinoceros as “Near Threatened”.   

The Greater Vancouver Zoo knows how much Charlie has touched the lives of our guests. We encourage anyone wishing to express their thoughts and/or share photos of their memories of Charlie to send them to our facebook page. Cards are also graciously being accepted at the front admission and will be posted at his barn.

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure. ~Author Unknown"

Media Contact: 

Jody Henderson 

General Manager 

Phone:  604.856.6825 x 27 


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Phone: 604.856.6825