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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo team working to address new health concern for 'Jumbe' Eastern black rhino

Posted at 5:44 PM, Jul 01, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's 21-year-old Eastern black rhino, Jumbe, and his team are working together to address a new health concern.


The zoo says a routine blood test this June revealed iron saturation in Jumbe's blood had risen to concerning levels.


Jumbe's condition is called iron overload disorder. The zoo says it can damage organs and potentially lead to fatal consequences.

According to the zoo, Jumbe seems to be feeling well, and he isn't showing any signs of discomfort. Along with monitoring his iron metabolism, Jumbe's team is also monitoring his liver and kidney levels, which they say are in normal ranges.


Jumbe has surpassed the median life expectancy for his species in human care by two years, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo says Jumbe's team remains optimistic about his future.

Because black rhinos are predisposed to developing this condition, the zoo says Jumbe's diet was formulated to minimize over-absorption of iron. Since the diagnosis, the zoo's care team has made further changes to his diet.

The zoo says the goal is to see if they can minimize iron absorption even further. This month, the zoo says his bloodwork shows a 10% improvement. Despite this, they say his iron levels are still high.

According to the zoo, Jumbe is trained and ready for phlebotomy treatment, if that's decided to be his best option moving forward.

According to the zoo, Jumbe first came to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 2012, Eastern black rhinos are native to Africa and their most distinguishable feature is the prehensile top lip, or their "pointy" lip which helps them strip leaves and bark from shrubs and trees in their native habitat.

Learn more about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo here.

WATCH: Rocky Mountain Goat Kids are the newest Cheyenne Mountain Zoo residents


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