By Sarah Hale
Los Angeles Times
Sweet Pea, a rare black rhinoceros known to Los Angeles zookeepers
for her penchant for apples and her sweet demeanor, was euthanized
Friday after several months of battling an unknown disease, zoo
The 24-year-old rhino, which weighed more than a ton, began experiencing
health problems last summer, including a loss in weight and appetite
coupled with anemia and chronic iron overload. Zoo veterinarians
performed dozens of tests with no explanation of the cause of Sweet
Cynthia Stringfield, the zoo's chief veterinarian, said Sweet Pea
couldn't stand up when she awoke Friday.
"She was a very people-oriented rhino up until the very end,"
Stringfield said that Sweet Pea may have had cancer or a fungal
infection. A gross necropsy will be performed to determine the cause
of the illness.
Sweet Pea, who was given the name because of her pleasing personality,
was born in 1976 in Cincinnati and came to the Los Angeles Zoo in
The Los Angeles Zoo has two remaining black rhinos, Buster and
Shebani, in its collection. The zoo also has three on loan to other
The species is considered highly endangered, with only about 2,500
remaining in the wild in Africa and about 150 in zoos.