Christa Press Release

Sharing Sad News

For over 3 decades, an icon of strength and charisma has captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of adoring animal lovers in Tyler. Christa the black rhinoceros, who was born in 1986 at the San Antonio Zoo, joined the Caldwell Zoo animal family in July of 1987, where she immediately became admired by all who visited her.

Christa was named in honor of the teacher and astronaut, Christa McAuliffe, who perished in the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy of 1986. She definitely honored this legacy by being a wonderful ambassador for rhinos all around the globe. Her strength and amazing personality really made Christa a shining star at the zoo. It’s no wonder she was absolutely adored by visitors and her dedicated animal keepers that took care of her every day. 

With heavy hearts, we share the news that Christa passed away in her private barn on the morning of April 26th. Being almost 37 years old, Christa had a very long and healthy life for her species. In fact, she was the oldest, living black rhino in North America! She will be remembered by all for her strength and larger-than-life personality. She had a sweet tooth, and when it would get close to feeding time, Christa would often grunt and huff to speed up her keepers bringing her favorite foods, sweet potatoes and watermelons. Christa was a very engaging rhino who absolutely loved the simple things in life: sweet treats and scratches under her chin. 

The black rhino is critically endangered in the wild due to habitat loss and hunting, and it has been an honor to take care of such a magnificent animal and bring awareness to the real threats to her species. These majestic animals are facing serious issues in the wild and they need our help. That’s why the Caldwell Zoo, along with other zoos within AZA, have been involved in conservation and breeding programs. Breeding rhinos is very challenging due to their long gestation period and the limited number of healthy, breeding age animals. Christa overcame all challenges and even had three offspring of her own who later had three calves! 

The Caldwell Zoo has contributed to conservation efforts for threatened species for decades, and in honor of Christa, we will remain steadfast in the mission to help preserve wildlife. We will deeply miss Christa with her dazzling personality and loving nature. Her legacy will live on forever in the hearts of her adoring keepers and the entire community. 

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