Looking for ways to save the Northern White rhino - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Looking for ways to save the Northern White rhino

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Representatives of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya have held discussions on how to save the northern white rhinoceroses species, which is on the brink of extinction, zoo officials reported Tuesday.

Only four northern white rhinos are left in the world -- an elderly female at the Safari Park, and a male and two females at the conservancy. Three of the four are too old to reproduce.

The zoo's representatives discussed collaborating with the conservancy on ways to save the species. Northern white rhinos became extinct in the wild in 2008, due to intensified poaching.

"Whilst the predicament of northern white rhinos is calamitous, we are excited to forge close ties with San Diego to try and save the species," said Richard Vigne, CEO of the conservancy.

"San Diego (Zoo Global) has a rich and successful history in endangered species management and, between us and other collaborators, we hope that we can deploy cutting-edge science that will benefit not only the northern whites, but other species in the future," he said.

The female at the Safari Park, 41-year-old Nola, underwent surgery last month to relieve an abscess on her hip and is being closely monitored by animal care staff.

The park's team checked on the three northern white rhinos in Kenya and found them to be in good condition, according to the zoo. They live in a conservancy that encompasses 139 square miles of African savannah and is also home to around half of Kenya's black rhinos.

Nola's male companion, Angalifu, died at the age of 44 last December. A female died in July at a zoo in the Czech Republic.

Genetic material from a dozen northern white rhinos has been preserved at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, for future reproductive opportunities, zoo officials said.

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