Current Plans to Introduce Black Rhinoceros Species to the Zoo
Published: January 8, 2022
The Birmingham Zoo’s herd of three southern white rhinoceros have moved to a private facility in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) based on a recommendation from the White Rhino Species Survival Plan® (SSP).
The Birmingham Zoo joins other zoos around the world in participating in SSP programs, cooperative breeding, and conservation initiatives. The Zoo has been home to female white rhinos, Laptop and Ajabu (a mother-daughter pair), since November 2008 after their arrival from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas. Max, the resident male white rhino, joined the herd in October 2012 from the Brevard Zoo in Florida through the SSP, in efforts to breed with Laptop and Ajabu.
All three rhinos will now have the opportunity to live in a larger herd of southern white rhinos to help sustain this near-threatened species and aid in the expansion of the population. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species includes both subspecies of white rhinoceros, southern and northern, as the only of the five rhino species that are not endangered. AZA-accredited zoos continue to answer the call to action by providing support to rhino conservation all around the world so that these magnificent animals will survive into the future.
“We have been working with the White Rhino SSP to place our rhinos at a facility where they will have more breeding success,” says Birmingham Zoo Vice President of Living Collections, Hollie Colahan. “As we have learned more about this species, we have new knowledge that larger facilities that can hold more white rhinos have more breeding success.”
The Birmingham Zoo will make the transition from housing white rhinos to being a facility that is better set up for a different species of rhinos. “We have been diligently working with the Black Rhino SSP to identify animals for the Zoo to receive in the spring,” Colahan continues. “We are sad to see Max, Laptop, and Ajabu leave our animal family but black rhinos are in need of more holders and our facility is better suited to the needs of this species, and Birmingham Zoo is excited to play a helping role.” Improvements to the habitat are underway with the space expanding to include the empty hippopotamus area.