Friday, May 7, 2010

New heavyweight tenant checks in at the Zoo

(Indian Rhino in Cincinnati Zoo)

Edinburgh’s heaviest resident arrived yesterday (Wednesday 5 May) from Germany. The 18-month greater one-horned Indian rhino who could grow to weigh 2 – 2.5 tonnes, arrived by lorry at Edinburgh Zoo from Stuttgart.

The young rhino named Samir was lifted in his crate by crane into the bottom paddock of the rhino enclosure and when keepers were happy, the door of the crate was opened and he walked into his new home.

Sue Gaffing, Head Keeper for the Zoo’s hoofstock collection said:

When you are dealing with a creature that is both heavy and potentially dangerous, moving it can be a challenge. We want to ensure the animal remains calm even if we may not be feeling the same! I’m glad to say the Samir arrived safely at Edinburgh Zoo and is already started to explore his surroundings much to the delight of our visitors.”

Fanindra, the Zoo’s other rhino who now nearly six years old and at an age to start breeding, is due to move to pastures new at the end of May. He will hopefully be teamed up with a female very soon to help play his part in securing future populations of rhinos in the future. Samir will get the chance to participate in the program as soon he is sexually mature.

In the past Indian rhinos could be found across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent. But their biggest enemy has always been man and populations declined drastically due to habitat loss, hunting and poaching to the brink of extinct in the early 20th century.

Listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) this means the Indian rhinoceros is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. This listing reflects the recent boost in wild population numbers from 200 to 2,575.

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