Zoo’s iconic white rhino, Polly, dies after days of deteriorating health

Representatives with Zoo Knoxville say its white rhino, Polly, has died after days of deteriorating health. (Source: WVLT)
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 8:25 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) - Zoo Knoxville announced the passing of its southern white rhinoceros named Polly this week.

WVLT reports Polly was well-known at the zoo after being a resident for more than 45 years. But on Friday she was euthanized due to failing health.

Polly was 54 years old and was being treated for pain and mobility issues related to her old age, zoo representatives said.

However, Polly’s health began to rapidly deteriorate over the past few days, and her care team decided to euthanize her so she would not endure any more suffering.

“The zoo has been here for 74 years, and Polly was here for 46 of those years,” said Phil Colclough, an animal care director at the zoo. “She is deeply a part of Zoo Knoxville.”

According to the zoo, Polly was one of the oldest rhinos in the country. She came to Zoo Knoxville in 1976 and gave birth to 10 calves over her lifetime.

“During her reproductive years, she helped make Knoxville one of the most successful breeding programs for southern white rhinos in the country. Her offspring have gone on to ensure a future for this species,” Colclough said.

Zoo officials reported all of Polly’s offspring have joined other herds and have had progeny of their own.

“Polly was always an iconic ambassador,” Colclough said. “She left a legacy to be proud of.”