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Rhinos Together

 

 

 

Jabari and Johari, black rhinosJabari and Johari, the eastern black rhinos that came to Lee Richardson Zoo in the spring of 2016 as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Rhino Species Survival Plan are together at last.  They were brought to the Zoo from Zoo Atlanta and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo with the goal of helping this critically endangered species by producing offspring in the future and sharing their conservation message with zoo guests.  Zoo staff didn’t put the two together right away because Jabari, the male, who is now almost 4 years old, is three years younger than Johari and he was quite a bit smaller when he arrived.  Black rhinos are also somewhat solitary animals so it’s not their nature to always be interacting closely with other rhinos.


Johari and Jabari, black rhinosWith time, Jabari caught up to his future mate in size.   This was important as it makes it less likely that Johari would physically dominate him, and possibly scare him off, greatly reducing the chance of future breeding.  During that same time, animal care staff also accustomed the rhinos to having their horns dulled in order to reduce the likelihood of injuries when the rhinos are together. 


Johari and Jabari, black rhinosJabari and Johari’s behavior, as well as his growth, influenced the staff’s decision that the time had finally come.  Tuesday, June 27, was the pair’s first time together without any barriers separating them.  There has been some chasing, primarily by Johari at first, and some rhino-style pushing and shoving, but nothing too rambunctious or hazardous. 


Johari and Jabari, black rhinosWhile the pair is together now, don’t expect a baby rhino in the Zoo’s Christmas stocking.  Black rhino gestation is 15 to 16 months long and Jabari is still a bit young to sire offspring.  Based on their nature, you may not see them side by side or even in the same part of the habitat all the time.  If you’re visiting Lee Richardson Zoo and have questions about the rhinos, the keepers offer a rhino-focused chat at 2:30 every day and will be happy to answer your questions.