From Africa to central Minnesota, work is underway to save the rhino population
From Africa to central Minnesota, there is work underway to save the rhinoceros.
The rhino has nearly been driven to extinction, mainly due to poaching. Now, a focus on breeding is trying to build back their numbers.
Just this week, African Parks announced it’s purchasing the world’s largest private captive rhino breeding operation and that over the next decade, it will rewild 2,000 white rhinos — it’s being considered one of the biggest rewilding efforts for a species ever.
According to African Parks, it purchased the operation, the land it’s on, and the rhinos after its previous owner couldn’t handle the cost anymore.
“It is something to be proud of that we were able to help these animals secure them in a safe place where they could be able to live and flourish and so forth,” Jackie Poepping, zoo manager at Hemker Park & Zoo, said.
Poepping knows rhinos well, as the Hemker family zoo, in Stearns County, is the only zoo in the state that has them.
“They are hanging out with us [until] they’re fully grown,” Poepping said about their two Indian rhinos, adding: “And, then they may be recommended for breeding for that genetic diversity, because all five [species of] rhino are endangered.”
“It matters here though, because if they’re not out in the wild, our ecosystem is going to change for the worse, not the better,” Poepping said about their work.
She’s familiar with the work in Africa to bolster the rhino population as they work with Worth Wild Africa, with part of their proceeds from the zoo and rhino feeding going to their effort.
“We want to educate all the guests that come through here [about] why these animals are important, even in the zoological facilities, and in the wild, to ensure that they’re around for years to come,” Poepping said.