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Celebrating Efforts in Cincinnati and Beyond to Save Rhinos on World Rhino Day

On World Rhino Day, we celebrate the combined rhino conservation efforts of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Over the past five years, AZA zoos have invested over $5.1 million in rhino conservation, taking part in more than 160 field conservation projects benefiting all five rhinoceros species: black, white, greater one-horned (Indian), Sumatran, and Javan.

Black rhino (Photo: Mark Dumont)

Black rhino (Photo: Mark Dumont)

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is proud to be a part of this larger effort. Today, I’d like to highlight just two of the amazing efforts we support to help save rhinos in the wild. One takes place right here in Cincinnati and involves community members like you. The other is happening on the other side of the world in Zambia and Vietnam.

Bowling for Rhinos

For the third year in a row, the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (GCCAAZK) is holding a Bowling for Rhinos event to raise awareness and funds for rhino conservation. Proceeds from the event support rhino conservation efforts in national parks and wildlife conservancies in Kenya, Java, and Sumatra. This year’s event will take place from 5:00 to 10:00pm on October 1 at Stone Lanes. Even though tickets to bowl have already sold out, all are welcome to stop by and participate in the rest of the activities. There will be a silent auction and raffle as well as t-shirts and other merchandise for sale. It’s always a great time!

Fun times at last year's Bowling for Rhinos event!

Fun times at last year’s Bowling for Rhinos event!

Can’t make it to the actual event, but still want to support rhinos? AAZK is seeking lane sponsors for the event. For $100, you will have your name (or that of your business) displayed prominently above one of the bowling lanes at the event.  Your name or logo will also be displayed on our “Event Sponsors” poster at the event, and GCCAAZK will highlight you or your company as a sponsor with a post on its Facebook page. And because AAZK is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, your donations are tax deductible. If you would like to become a Bowling for Rhinos sponsor, please contact Jenna at [email protected].

Using Dogs to Combat Rhino Poaching and Trafficking

Rhino poaching for horns is at an all-time high and rhino populations are declining pretty much everywhere they are found. One way to combat poaching and trafficking of rhino horns is to increase the risk of getting caught engaging in these illegal activities, and dogs have the sniffers to do just that.

Working Dogs for Conservation (WDC) is leading the way in the use of dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell to protect wildlife and wild places. Dogs have been trained to detect everything from wild animal scat to poaching snares to assist with field research and conservation. A well-trained dog and its handler are powerful weapons against wildlife crime.

A detection dog team with Working Dogs for Conservation (Photo: The Wild Center)

A detection dog team with Working Dogs for Conservation (Photo: The Wild Center)

Through the Zoo’s Internal Conservation Grants Fund, we are currently supporting WDC in the creation of dog-handler teams to combat rhino trafficking specifically in Zambia and Vietnam. In North Luangwa National Park, the only remaining home for black rhinos in Zambia, dogs are trained to search vehicles leaving the park for rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products. In Vietnam, considered to be the world’s largest market for rhino horn, dogs are trained to search for illegal wildlife products in international airports and seaports.

Dogs are able to quickly check vehicles and shipping containers. They are also mobile, allowing the checkpoints to be moved unpredictably, which makes it more difficult for smugglers to anticipate checks. This combination of efficiency and mobility makes dogs more versatile and useful than humans or even x-ray machines. Seizures will increase the costs and risks of poaching and provide critically important intelligence for the fight against rhino poaching.


September 22, 2016   No Comments

A RARE Endeavour: CREW Scientists Assist Rhino Reproduction

With a history of verified results from collaborative research, CREW scientists understand the importance of developing
scientific capacity within individuals and organizations throughout North America to overcome the serious loss of
genetic diversity facing captive African and Asian rhino populations.

Indian rhino (Photo: DJJAM)

Indian rhino (Photo: DJJAM)

In the first year of a three-year National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CREW
has begun building a Rhino Assisted Reproduction Enterprise (RARE) in collaboration with SeaWorld Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center and several other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. These zoos contribute the veterinary and rhino keeper staff time needed to learn and implement rhino assisted reproductive techniques,
with the necessary training, tools and laboratory support provided by CREW.

One objective of the grant is to contribute to the genetic management and propagation of captive Indian rhinos through artificial insemination (AI). Although AI in Indian rhinos is still a work in progress, the achievements made during CREW’s initial 8-year effort are impressive with six conceptions and four term calves produced. Because there is a steep learning curve to these procedures, we are hopeful that success will become even more common over time. Participating zoos agree to collect and ship rhino urine samples on a frequent basis to CREW for hormone analysis needed to time AI. Rhino keeper staff at each facility condition females to enter a chute for the purpose of performing AI and the standing sedation protocol already established for successful intrauterine AI in this species is implemented prior to expected ovulation date. Each facility observes one AI before performing the next AI under CREW supervision.

Dr. Monica Stoops (CREW) and Dr. Anneke Moresco (Denver Zoo) discuss results of an ultrasound exam conducted on a sedated female Indian rhino.

Dr. Monica Stoops (CREW) and Dr. Anneke Moresco (Denver Zoo) discuss results of an ultrasound exam conducted on a sedated female Indian rhino.

We are happy to report that the Denver Zoo team is now fully trained in Indian rhino AI and is performing procedures in house using sperm from CREW’s CryoBioBank. Our long-term commitment to rhino conservation has positioned us to respond to the growing need of zoos to build their capacity for assisted reproductive technology for rhinos. We are gladly meeting this challenge and enjoying establishing a network of RARE researchers united for a common cause – to save rhinos. A RARE endeavor indeed.

February 8, 2016   2 Comments

Coming Up: Rhino Awareness Days and Bowling for Rhinos

Rhino Awareness Days

World Rhino Day falls on a Tuesday this year, September 22, so the Zoo is going to celebrate Rhino Awareness Days, free with regular Zoo admission, the following weekend. From 10:00 to 3:00 on September 26 and 27, guests are invited to learn more about rhinos and how we can help save them in the wild.

World Rhino Day logo

CREW Volunteers will be on hand at the Sumatran rhino exhibit to tell Harapan’s story, the last Sumatran rhino on exhibit in the United States. Here guests can catch a last glimpse of Harapan before he leaves for Indonesia and wish him well on his journey. With less than 100 Sumatran rhinos left on Earth, Harapan will move to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary where he will have the opportunity to breed and contribute to his species’ survival. His departure marks the end of an era for the Cincinnati Zoo’s Sumatran rhino breeding program, the only captive breeding program in the United States to produce calves for this critically endangered species. An exact date for Harapan’s departure has not been set, but the Zoo is pushing for the move to happen this fall. Until then, guests can visit him in Wildlife Canyon daily from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Speaking of Harapan’s departure, there’s exciting news about his brother, and Cincinnati Zoo born Sumatran rhino, Andalas. The critically-endangered Sumatran rhino population will soon increase by one.  In a species with fewer than 100 individuals left on the planet, one is a significant number. Andalas and Ratu are expecting a calf in May 2016. Learn more and see ultra sound images here

We're going to miss Harapan's adorable face and hope the females in Indonesia find him irresistible!  (Photo: Kathy Newton)

We’re going to miss Harapan’s adorable face and hope the females in Indonesia find him irresistible! (Photo: Kathy Newton)

On the other side of the Zoo, guests can engage with Volunteer Educators at the CREW Wild Discover Zone to learn more about all of our rhino research programs. CREW is currently undertaking a project to expand access and build capacity for African and Asian rhino reproductive care within North American zoological facilities. The Zone is set up next to the Indian and black rhino exhibits where guests might get the chance to say hello to our newest rhino resident, a black rhino male named Faru.

Faru is doing great here in his new home and his training is going very well. The keepers are working with him to present both sides of his body  on cue and open his mouth to allow them to check his teeth and tongue. This allows them to perform basic foot care, daily baths, and administer medical care when needed with minimal stress to Faru. He and the female, Seyia, are still getting to know each other, and the hope is to put them together for breeding later this fall.

Welcome Faru to the Zoo! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

Welcome Faru to the Zoo! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

The keepers are also working with CREW to determine the reproductive cycle of our one and only Indian rhino, Manjula, using ultrasound and urine analysis. Manjula is chute-trained, target-trained, and she will hold her mouth open while they shine a flashlight inside to check everything. This training has been essential to administering the hormone to help her ovulate and also give the anesthetics used for her standing sedation procedures- both of which she does willingly and cooperatively! The plan is to artificially inseminate Manjula. The keepers are also currently working on blood draw training and teaching Manjula to stand her rear feet in rubber tubs for a foot soak. (Indian rhinos are prone to foot issues.)

Manjula, Indian rhino (Photo: Kathy Newton)

Manjula, Indian rhino (Photo: Kathy Newton)

Bowling for Rhinos

What else can you do to help save rhinos? Go bowling! The Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers is holding its second annual Bowling for Rhinos event on October 17 to raise awareness and funds for rhino conservation.To be held from 6:00 to 8:30 at Stone Lanes in Norwood, the event is sure to be tons of fun! In addition to bowling, there will be t-shirts for sale, a silent auction and a raffle to meet a rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo! Buy your tickets online now before they sell out!

Bowling for Rhinos 2015 flyer

September 24, 2015   No Comments