By Jessica Sigle and Ashley Roth
In preparation for our Rhino Spotlight on Species event we would like to introduce you to the five rhino species. Today we will be highlighting the two African species: the White rhinos and Black rhinos.
Did you know white rhinos are not really white? They are actually gray or what ever color mud they decided to roll in that day. The name white comes from early English settlers misinterpreting the word “weit,” meaning wide. White rhinos have a very wide mouth that helps them to pull savannah grasses, like giant lawn mowers. The Houston Zoo’s rhinos each consume one bale of coastal hay a day with each bale weighing about 45 pounds. Though they are strictly grazers, white rhinos are the largest of the 5 species weighing on average 4,000 pounds.
Like the white rhinos, black rhinos are also gray. The best way to tell these two species apart is by looking at their lip. Black rhinos have a prehensile, triangular upper lip that they use to grab leaves off of trees and bushes. This feeding behavior is called browsing. The black rhinos can be found browsing for food in grasslands scattered through central and southern Africa. They prefer a more solitary lifestyle than their social cousins the white rhinos.
All 5 species of rhinos are endangered or critically endangered due to poaching and habitat loss. To learn more about these species and how you can help save them from extinction visit the Houston Zoo September 21 and 22 to celebrate World Rhino Day and support five species forever!