DES MOINES — Two eastern black rhinoceros have arrived at Blank Park Zoo in preparation for the new $4 million Africa exhibit opening next spring.
“Rhinoceros are the perfect addition to the Blank Park Zoo. They are a very large animal that will be popular with our guests. They are also an animal in great danger in the wild as poachers are killing them at devastating rates because of the value of their horns,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo. “We want to raise awareness about this because it’s possible that within our lifetime these animals will be extinct in the wild.”
According to the International Rhino Foundation, there are less than 5,000 black rhinos left in the wild and less than 30,000 of all species of rhinos.
Blank Park Zoo acquired two black rhinoceros, a male named Kiano and a female named Ayana. The rhinos are part of a breeding program called a species survival plan (SSP), and zoo officials hope they will breed when they become mature. This program’s goal is to maintain a sustainable population of black rhinos in zoos. The male came from the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and the female came from Zoo Miami in Florida. Ayana was born in August 2010 and weighs 1,900 pounds and Kiano was born in October 2010 and weighs just over 1,000 pounds.
Ayana and Kiano are now going through a required 30-day ‘quarantine’ process which helps the animals become accustomed to their new home and keepers monitor their health and stress. Once this process is completed, keepers will begin to introduce the animals to each other.
About Black Rhinoceros
International Rhino Foundation
The black rhinoceros has two horns, with the front one being the larger of the two. They can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and be 5.5 feet tall at shoulder height and up to 12.5 feet long if you include the head and body. The black rhino has a prehensile lip that is well-suited for grasping branches, leaves and shrubs. This is the species’ most distinguishing characteristic.
The black rhino lives in Africa, primarily in grasslands, savannahs and tropical bush lands. Female rhinos reach maturity at four to seven years of age while males reach maturity at seven to 10 years. Between 1970 and 1992, the wild population of this species has decreased by 96 percent.