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Cincinnati Zoo rhino passes away

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- An Indian rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo passed away Thursday morning at the zoo's Rhino Reserve.

The rhino, Nikki, was born at the Toronto Zoo in 1991 and was known for the world's first successful artificial insemination procedure for the endangered species.

In June, Nikki's keepers noticed she had swelling on the lower part of her body. They found a mass growing on one of her ovaries, but could not determine a cause or a diagnosis as her symptoms were not typical to ovarian tumors. Staff at the zoo say Nikki's case will be reviewed by a veterinary pathologist who specializes in zoo and wildlife animals.

"Today the Cincinnati Zoo has lost one of its most beloved animals.  Nikki was charismatic and charmed anyone who had the privilege of knowing and loving her," said Dr. Monica Stoops, Reproductive Physiologist at the Cincinnati Zoo. "Without a doubt, her absence will leave a great hole in our hearts and she will never be forgotten."

Nikki's two pregnancies were important to the the development of reproductive technology that could save the Indian rhino species.

There are only 60 Indian rhinos living in captivity in North America, and approximately 3,300 living in the wild.

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