This post written by Ashley Roth
The Houston Zoo is home to three White Rhinos. Rhinos are a magnificent species that have survived for more than 50 million years. There are five species that exist today; two African species – White and Black rhinos, three Asian species – Greater One-horned (Indian), Sumatran, and Javan Rhinos. There are less than 25,000 rhinos remaining in the world today. The White Rhinos are most numerous of the five species with a population of 18,000-20,000.
Unfortunately, the other species combined make up less than 5,000-7,000 rhinos, leaving each on the verge of extinction.
Rhinos are heavily poached for their horns. The horn is believed to have medicinal properties in traditional Asian medicines. Rhino horn is comprised of keratin, the same material found in our own fingernails. Although it has been proven that consuming rhino horn would have the same benefits as chewing on your own fingernails; many people in China and Vietnam continue its use. Due to an increase in the Vietnam middle class population, demand for rhino horn has been on the rise in recent years. More rhinos are being poached today for Southeast Asian consumption than ever before.
Through conservation we can work to ensure that rhinos will continue to exist for generations to come. Groups like the International Rhino Foundation work diligently to protect all species of rhinos. The Houston Zoo helps to support the IRF with their conservation efforts. For more information click here.
Join the Houston Zoo on September 22 and 23 for a special Spotlight on Species event celebrating World Rhino Day (September 22nd). The event will take place at the White Rhinoceros exhibit in The African Forest from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Keeper’s will be presenting rhino conservation efforts and the highlighting the myths surrounding the medicinal properties believed to be found in rhino horn. Special keeper chats focusing on Rhinos will be scheduled throughout the day. Children can take part in making rhino-themed crafts and face painting. Guests to the Houston Zoo will have the chance to see a rhino skull, a model of a rhino horn and other special items. Items and merchandise will be available for purchase with proceeds going to conservation efforts led by the International Rhino Foundation.
Follow us on the countdown to World Rhino Day for more blogs about Houston Zoo’s rhinos; including, a sneak peek into “a day of a rhino keeper,” and a highlight of the International Rhino Foundation.