Woodland Park Zoo to get two male rhinos as early as next year

Rhinos are coming to the Woodland Park Zoo next year for the first time in the zoo’s 118-year history.

For the first time in its 118-year history, rhinos are coming to the Woodland Park Zoo.

The zoo is in line to receive a captive-bred pair of greater one-horned rhinoceroses in 2018, possibly as early as March, with the animals expected to be on view to the public by May, said Gigi Allianic, spokeswoman for the zoo.

The animals would be on loan to Woodland Park for up to two years, she said. The zoo will be sourcing rhinos from accredited facilities in North America that are as yet undetermined, Allianic said.

The rhinos will be of an age when they would normally be dispersing from their mothers.

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The zoo anticipates creating a home for two males from two separate facilities. The pair is expected to be 18 to 24 months old — so young they won’t yet have their horns.

The purpose of the exhibit is to educate the public about the plight of rhinos in the wild, where they have diminished to only about 3,500 animals, mostly in two parks in India and Nepal. Poaching remains a major threat to their survival.

The zoo hopes the exhibit will not only be a thrill for visitors who have never had a chance to see a rhino up close, but also shed light on the animals’ struggle for survival in the wild.

The rhinos will be housed in the exhibit area formerly used by the zoo’s elephants. That exhibit was closed in 2015 and has been vacant since, Allianic said.

Alyne Fortgang, co-founder of Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants helped lead the 10-year campaign to close the exhibit and move the zoo’s elephants, Bamboo and Chai, to a sanctuary. Instead they ultimately were moved to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Chai has since died, but Bamboo lives on in Oklahoma.

Fortgang disagreed with Woodland Park’s…

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