Bonnie the rhinoceros, a 15-year-old Southern White Rhino weighing more than two tons, is the latest new arrival at the Audubon Zoo.
Bonnie, who was born and raised at the Lion Country Safari in Florida, joins the one male and two female rhinos already living at the Zoo. Bonnie arrived in late April and has been acclimating herself to her new surroundings.
“The hope is she will breed with our male Saba and produce much needed new blood into the captive rhino population,” says Bill Smith, Audubon Zoo's Curator of Hoofstock.
All five species of rhinoceros are critically endangered due to poaching, Smith says. Rhino horn is sold in some Asian countries in the false belief that it contains medicinal properties, and in Middle Eastern countries where it is used to craft ceremonial dagger handles.
"In fact, their horns are made of Keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails," Smith says. "If the levels of poaching for rhinos continue to rise at the current pace, there could be no wild rhinos for our grandchildren to enjoy.”
The plan is for Bonnie to "stimulate" breeding between Saba, the Zoo's male rhino, and mate Yvonne, who produced a baby in 2003.
The zoo's other rhino is Macite, a 51-year-old who is the world's oldest rhino in captivity.
Bonnie will soon join her horned brethren in the Zoo's African Savanna exhibit.