The newest member of a South Texas zoo is an endangered white rhino that goes by the name Bebop.
The 5-year-old Southern white rhino has joined other endangered white rhinos on display at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. The new rhino arrived at the zoo in March from the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates in Punta Gorda, Florida, but underwent quarantine before being introduced to the exhibit, The Brownsville Herald reported.
Patrick Burchfield, the zoo’s executive director, said zoo staff is excited to have breeding-age rhinos on site.
“Historically, we have produced two baby white rhinos here at the zoo in the past,” Burchfield said. “We are part of what’s called a species survival program for the white rhino, and we needed to get a breeding male in here in order to breed white rhinos.”
Zookeepers have placed Bebop in enclosures close to the zoo’s other female white rhinos, Abby and Julie.
Zoo staff members hope Bebop will successfully breed with the females, Burchfield said. Baby rhinos are usually 140 to 150 pounds and the birthing process can take up to 18 months, he said.
White rhinos are listed by the IUCN List of Endangered Species as near threatened, mostly from habitat loss and poaching.
Rhinos are hunted for their horns and keratin, according to Burchfield.
“When the Gladys Porter Zoo began, the Southern white rhino was one of the more critically endangered rhinos and that’s why we got into the white rhino business in the first place, but thanks to excellent conservation efforts in South Africa, their numbers are back to where they are the most numerous rhinos now, but they’re still threatened,” he said.
Source: The Associated Press