MADISON — One of the oldest residents, and one who has lived at the Henry Vilas Zoo the longest, has passed away.
Zoo officials said it was necessary to make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize George, a 44-year-old white rhinoceros, due to his deteriorating health and comfort, according to WMTV.
“We will miss George. He was a beloved member of our community. I want to thank our Henry Vilas Zoo staff for their great care of George over the last 40 years. This is a tremendous loss for our zoo family,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi told WMTV.
George arrived at Henry Vilas Zoo in 1976 with female rhinoceros, Gracie.
“George was an iconic member of our zoo family that over his forty plus years at the zoo connected with millions of visitors including myself as a child in the 1970’s. He and Gracie sparked my desire to work in zoos and help conservation efforts of all animal species. He will be sorely missed by us all and was an ambassador for his species. We hope his legacy will live on,” Henry Vilas Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz told WMTV.
Officials said George was one of the 10 oldest living white rhinoceros in the North American Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos.