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If you’re mourning Sudan the rhino, go vegan

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There was Cecil. There was Harambe. Today, it’s Sudan.

Yes, Instagram stories everywhere were overflowing with devastation this afternoon as news broke that the world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, was euthanized.

Formerly a prisoner of the Dver Kralove Zoo, Sudan lived to the age of 45 at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya having been acquired by them in 2009. Age-related complications meant Sudan suffered leg wounds that the veterinary team from the Dvur Kralove Zoo, Ol Pejeta and Kenya Wildlife Services deemed too much to recover from. Previous attempts to leverage Sudan’s fertility struggles (to the tune of $9million) on Tinder made him somewhat of a media darling, with many mourning this goodbye.

Broken heart and rhino emojis have since littered the pages of well meaning, “animal loving,” non-vegans everywhere. And I’m here to ask those people to go vegan.

There’s a few ways I can try to appeal to you readers. I can mention how Sudan had his horns sawed off and radio transmitters installed at the conservation  – what some deemed a “better” life than the threat of poachers – if Sudan’s welfare is why we’re all most upset. I can talking about poaching and hunting as the evils we must work on eradicating first if we’re most interested in finger pointing at those we deem worse off to animals than we are. I could even talk about the environment, extinction, and the scary thought that our children won’t know the exotic animals we’ve known if I’m interested in thickening the divide between species. But all of that fails Sudan and all the countless animals currently in danger or in any form of captivity, the unjust prize or property for those who wish to benefit from their exploitation.

What I’m getting at it is that Sudan was no worse off than the chickens we farm for eggs and flesh, the horses we keep for transportation, or the tigers we cage for entertainment. To feel sympathy for the lost life of Sudan or for the end of the subspecies is to understand the moral position that veganism requires; that animals don’t deserve to suffer and die unnecessarily for the benefit of humans. 

So although I am adamantly opposed to the poaching of an animal to sell it’s horns, I echo that same opposition when talking about selling any other living beings body parts whether they’re of black market value or live on a grocery store shelf. The same can be said for the parallels in keeping an animal captive in a zoo or as an attraction on a vacation tour. We have to realize that all use is unnecessary and is all therefore wrong. Human disregard for rhino life is no different than human disregard for all the other animal species facing extinction or those facings our factories and forks.

Now, Sudan’s legacy isn’t necessarily over as his owners discuss using his semen to artificially impregnate either of the two surviving females of his family. A quick google search brings up that DNA of a dozen northern white rhinos have also been preserved in genetic banks in Berlin and San Diego. So what can we expect to follow this headline, then? “Victory: Humanity saves Northern White Rhinos?” Will we continue to breed them, to kill them, to breed them again? Or will this story become quickly forgotten in a sea of bad news that looks to make us feel as if these problems are insurmountable or too large for us to solve.

I certainly hope that this lose can instead be a catalyst for change and that those wanting to make a difference don’t simply click a donate button on a rhino page. The world needs more vegans because more than dollars or pledges or sad-emoji riddled posts, our individual efforts can stop the demand for horns, for zoos, for animal flesh, and for the exploitation of any living being. For Sudan and for all animals, please go vegan. 

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