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Conservationists and animal lovers are in mourning today for loss of Sudan rhinoceros. Sudan was world's last male northern white rhino. 45-year-old animal was put down by his carers at zoo in Kenya after "age-related complications". He had been in very poor health recently due to his old age. Zoo officials say his condition had "worsened significantly" and that he no longer had strength to stand. His muscles had severely deteriorated throughout his body and his skin had "extensive wounds". zoo's director said: "Sudan's death was cruel symbol of human disregard for nature and it saddened everyone who knew him....He stole heart of many with his dignity and strength."

Like many of Earth's majestic beasts, hunters have hunted northern white rhino to near-extinction. There were more than 2,000 northern white rhino in wild in 1960s but their numbers continually dwindled because of value of their horns. only remaining northern white rhinos today are two females - Sudan's daughter and granddaughter. Both animals live in captivity so they will be protected. There are hopes that two females can produce young to keep species going. In vitro fertilization techniques using stored semen from other dead rhinos could be used to impregnate Sudan's offspring. zoo is hoping to raise $9 million to fund conservation project.

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