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Audubon Zoo Raises Awareness About Rhino Crisis

World Rhino Day: Help save a species that's existed for millions of years


Audubon Zoo has been shining a spotlight on the dire plight of these magnificent animals leading up to World Rhino Day on Thursday, September 22. Last weekend, Audubon staff displayed a biofact cart and hosted rhino chats in the African Savanna.

Rhinos have roamed the earth for an estimated 40 million years. But the worldwide rhino population is dwindling at an alarming rate.

Audubon Zoo has been shining a spotlight on the dire plight of these magnificent animals leading up to World Rhino Day on Thursday, September 22. Last weekend, Audubon staff displayed a biofact cart and hosted rhino chats in the African Savanna.

Over the past five years, Association of Zoos and Aquarium members and affiliated organizations have invested $5 million-plus in more than 160 rhino conservation projects that benefited all five rhinoceros species: black, white, greater one-horned (Indian), Sumatran and Javan.

This year on World Rhino Day, the International Rhino Foundation is focusing on recruiting for its Team Rhino roster, asking volunteers - from students and teachers to artists and zoo workers to scientists and journalists - to take actions suited to their positions.

Using the site, participants are being asked to place a World Rhino Day picture frame on their Facebook pages and to sign the Team Rhino pledge to formalize their commitment to advocate for rhino conservation.

Madison Marullo, Audubon Zoo Rhino Care Professional
"With only 28,000 rhinos remaining in the wild, it is important to raise awareness about the plight of this vanishing species. Celebrating World Rhino Day allows us to educate the public about the hurdles these animals face every day and connect our guests with rhinos in ways that help them learn what they can do to help save the species. When it comes to conservation, education is key.''
Madison Marullo, Audubon Zoo Rhino Care Professional

Audubon is home to four Southern White Rhinos. Saba, 25, a male; and three females: Bonnie, 18, Yvonne, 26, and Macite, at 53 years of age, the world's oldest female Southern White Rhino. 

Today, very few rhinos survive outside of protected areas.

At the root of the rhino crisis is the myth that rhino horn contains curative properties. World Rhino Day highlights efforts to debunk the myths and diminish the demand for rhino horn.

Poachers kill rhinos for their horns, a prized commodity in Asian countries where they are used to create high-end gifts and to create "medicines'' for fabricated cures invented by crime syndicates to drive up demand. Rhinos also face widespread habitat loss due to illegal logging and pollution. 

Rhino Facts:

  • Rhinos have been around for an estimated 40 million years.
  • At the turn of the 19th century, there were approximately one million rhinos. In 1970, there were around 70,000. Today, there are only around 28,000 rhinos surviving in the wild.
  • Three of the five species of rhino are “critically endangered,'' which means the species is considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
  • Poachers kill rhinos for the price they can get for the horns (used for traditional Chinese medicine, for high-status gifts in Vietnam and for quack cures invented by criminal syndicates to drive up demand); land encroachment, illegal logging and pollution are destroying their habitat.
  • Rhinos help maintain natural balance within their habitat. The greater one-horned rhino in India and Nepal helps to germinate the seeds of the Trewia tree with its dung. In Africa, scientists are only beginning to understand the vital role played by white rhinos in creating and preserving grasslands which many species depend upon.
  • Rhinos are an umbrella species, which means protecting them also saves other wildlife, including birds, fish, insects and other mammals.

For more information on rhino conservation, click here. Audubon Zoo is located at 6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, La., 70118.

Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute operates a family of museums, parks and research facilities dedicated to celebrating the wonders of nature. Through innovative live animal exhibits, education programs, and scientific discovery, Audubon makes a meaningful contribution to preserving wildlife for the future. Audubon Nature Institute flagships include Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Entergy Giant Screen Theater, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Special Survival Center, Woldenberg Riverfront Park and Audubon Wilderness Park. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.

photo:Frank Donze
Frank Donze
Communications Specialist
Office: (504) 212-5335
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