DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – A beloved black rhinoceros at the Denver Zoo had to be humanely euthanized after losing his quality of life due to chronic foot problems in his old age.

According to zoo officials, Mshindi was 21 years old and his chronic foot problems got progressively worse over the last 1 1/2 years. He was put down on Wednesday.

“The median life expectancy for black rhinoceroses living in North American zoos is 17.8 years,” the zoo said in a statement.

“This is very hard for all of our staff. We’ll miss him terribly, but we knew this was the right thing to do,” Curator of Toyota Elephant Passage Dale Leeds said. “Mshindi was well-known and loved by our zookeepers and guests for his wonderful personality.”

The zoo explored many treatment options and Mshindi responded and showed improvement in June, but he stopped responding to the treatment.

Mshindi (credit: Denver Zoo)

Mshindi (credit: Denver Zoo)

“We watched Mshindi very closely and were optimistic about his recovery, but he was no longer responding to his treatment,” Vice President of Veterinary Medicine Scott Larsen said.

Mshindi means “warrior” or “champion” in Swahili. He was born at Denver Zoo in 1993 to parents, Lij and Rhinestone. He was well-known for his painting, “in which he learned to hold a brush in his mouth and run it along a canvas held by one of our zookeepers. These paintings were sold to raise money for rhino conservation.”

“He will be missed dearly,” Larsen said.

LINK: Denver Zoo

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