Rhinos

Rhinos

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Get Your Zoo News from ZOONOOZ

As Yun Zi discovered in 2010, a new location can deliver better views!

As Yun Zi discovered in 2010, a new location can deliver better views!

We’re excited to announce a new home for stories and updates about the animals and conservation work of San Diego Zoo Global: the ZOONOOZ website!  For the first time, the amazing stories, photos, and videos that have only been available via our printed magazine and app will be available to just about everyone. Anyone with a web browser—on any device—can enjoy the fun, interesting, and informative tales we share.

Blogs published in 2015 have been re-homed at the new location, and this site will continue to exist as an archive of past years’ stories and information.

The search function on the new site will help you find stories about the species you particularly enjoy reading about, but we encourage everyone to explore and scroll through the topic headings—you’re sure to discover some new favorites!

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Rhinos in India Now Thrive in Protected Area

Conservationists say that new video of greater one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park offers new hope for the future. The video was taken in late October by a team of conservationists, visiting the area to survey the success of ongoing anti-poaching efforts supported by San Diego Zoo Global.

Once prevalent throughout southern Asia, the greater one-horned rhino has been significantly affected by poaching for its horns. The entire population of the species is now only found in three national parks, where rhinos are heavily guarded. But although the greater one-horned rhino was reduced to a population of 200 only a few years ago, with the protection of the parks and communities around them, there are now more than 2,400 of this species in Kaziranga. In recent years, additional populations have been introducedthrough collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global experts and the International Rhino Foundationto protected areas in Manas and Orang national parks.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
 
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NOLA, THE NORTHERN WHITE RHINO, LEAVES AN IMMEASURABLE LEGACY THROUGH HER CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCIENCE

While the death of Nola, a critically endangered northern white rhino who died Nov. 22 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is still being mourned by those who worked closely with the beloved animal, as well as people from around the globe, scientists at San Diego Zoo Global are focusing on how Nola’s contributions through science could help save her species from extinction.

Taking a science-based approached, Dr. Oliver Ryder, director of genetics and Dr. Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive physiology, and their teams at the San Diego Zoo Conservation for Research Frozen Zoo along with collaborators at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla and at the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Medicine in Berlin, are working to develop and perfect reproductive techniques to save the northern white rhino from extinction.

Nola

“Nola’s unique story of the incredible journey she took in her lifetime and her impact on the world could never be recreated by any facet of science,” stated Dr. Ryder. “However, the information in her DNA – the digitized sequence of her genome – and the living cells that we have saved will serve as a legacy and a crucial tool for our efforts to bring back the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction. We hope what we can learn will also contribute to conservation of other species of rhinoceros.”

Durrant and Ryder, who both knew and worked with Nola for 26 years, obtained tissues samples collected post mortem for banking and establishment of additional cell cultures for the Frozen Zoo. The Frozen Zoo also has genetic material from 11 other northern white rhinos. The genetic material includes semen from two male northern white rhinos but no eggs from females. As expected, due to Nola’s advanced age, no eggs were able to be collected, but her ovarian and uterine tissues were saved.

Jane2

“Although Nola did not reproduce in her long lifetime, she touched the hearts of everyone who was fortunate enough to meet her.  In that way she contributed to our mission of saving the northern white rhino by demonstrating the intelligence and gentleness of her species,” stated Durrant.  “It is a great consolation to all who loved her that many of her tissues were collected and frozen for future research and assisted reproduction.  Her passing only strengthens our commitment to develop the technology needed to realize the goal of producing an offspring from Nola’s preserved cells.”

To reach the ultimate goal of successfully producing a northern white rhino, multiple steps must be accomplished. The first step involves sequencing the genomes of the northern white rhinos to clarify the extent of genetic divergence from their closest relative, the southern white rhino. Understanding these differences will assist scientists in guiding assisted reproduction efforts. The next step requires conversion of the cells preserved in the Frozen Zoo to stem cells that could develop into sperm and eggs, a process successfully begun in the laboratory of Dr. Jeanne Loring of Scripps Research Institute and published in 2011.

Reproductive options might include artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, genetic engineering or a hybrid with a southern white rhino. The reproductive system of rhinos is very complex and there is still much to be learned. San Diego Zoo Global recently opened a new Rhino Rescue Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, home to six southern white rhinos, who eventually could serve as surrogates.

Jane4

To further Nola’s contributions to science, her body and valuable horns will be sent to the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for inclusion in the research collections, where they will be maintained in an off-exhibit area with materials from other northern white rhinos. Nola’s physical remains will be preserved so scientists now and in the future can continue to study this magnificent species.

The 41-year-old Nola had been on around-the-clock watch since Nov. 17 when her keepers noticed she began showing signs of a reduced appetite and activity level. Her condition worsened significantly in the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 22, and the Safari Park’s animal care team made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

Nola’s death leaves three northern white rhinos remaining: a 43-year-old male, Sudan, and two females, 26-year-old Najin and 15-year-old Fatu, living under human care at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. These rhinos all have reproductive issues.

Northern white rhinos have been brought to the brink of extinction due to poaching in Africa.  Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails. Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures. In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare and endangered.

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SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL RECEIVES AN OUTPOURING OF SYMPATHY OVER DEATH OF ENDANGERED NORTHERN WHITE RHINOCEROS AT SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK

Since the news of the death of Nola, a critically endangered 41-year-old northern white rhino who died yesterday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was announced, San Diego Zoo Global has received an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy from around the globe.

“There are no words to adequately express the depth of the loss of Nola”, stated Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “All of us at San Diego Zoo Global are grateful for the outpouring of condolences we have been receiving. Nola was truly an amazing animal and her story resonated with people not only in San Diego, but globally. It is a very difficult time for our staff right now as they have worked with and cared for Nola for 26 years. Our hearts are broken over the loss of Nola and knowing her subspecies is now three individuals from extinction makes it even more difficult for of all of us who work with and love rhinos. But, we are not willing to give up.”

Nola

Nola was an iconic animal, not only at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, but worldwide. She was one of only four northern white rhinoceros on the planet. For those wanting to honor Nola’s memory, please share condolences, favorite photos or thoughts on Facebook using #Nola4Ever. Monetary donations also can be made to the San Diego Zoo Global Rhino Rescue Center at sandiegozoo.org/rhinos to help fund rhino conservation.

Her death moves her subspecies one step closer to extinction with three northern white rhinos remaining: a 43-year-old male, Sudan, and two females, 26-year-old Najin and 15-year-old Fatu, living under human care at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. These rhinos all have reproductive issues.

Keepers had been watching Nola around-the-clock since Nov. 17 when they noticed she began showing signs of a reduced appetite and activity level. Her condition worsened significantly in the early hours of Sunday, Nov. 22, and the Safari Park’s animal care team made the difficult decision to euthanize her.

Nola arrived at the Safari Park in 1989 on a breeding loan from the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. Northern white rhinos were at critically low numbers at the time and San Diego Zoo Global, known for its unprecedented rhino breeding successes, was chosen to try and breed this subspecies. Nola was paired with a northern white rhino male, Angalifu. While the pair bred, Nola never became pregnant. The pair lived in their spacious field habitat at the Safari Park until Angalifu died at the age of 42 in December 2014.

Northern white rhinos have been brought to the brink of extinction due to poaching in Africa. Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails. Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures. In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare and endangered.

While the future is bleak for the existing three northern white rhinos, conservationists at San Diego Zoo Global, Dvur Kralove Zoo, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and collaborators around the world are holding out hope that they can find a way to save the subspecies. Genetic and reproductive materials from 12 northern white rhinos have been stored in the Frozen Zoo at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, with the hope that new reproductive technologies will someday allow northern white rhinos to be reproduced by having southern white rhinos serve as surrogates. These reproductive technologies may also be applied to other rhino species including the critically endangered Javan rhinos and Sumatran rhinos.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

 

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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World Rhino Day Celebrated at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Almost 200 people—including San Diego Zoo Safari Park rhino keepers, high school conservation club members, San Diego Zoo Global staff members and Safari Park volunteers—celebrated World Rhino Day by taking part in a sky art project. The crowd assembled a 60- by 44-foot image depicting the Safari Park’s beloved Nola, a 41-year-old northern white rhino, who is one of only four remaining in the world.  World Rhino Day is celebrated internationally on Sept. 22 each year, to raise awareness of the five species of rhinos in the world: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan. San Diego Zoo Global has been working for decades to help rhinos, which are facing the worst poaching crisis in history. An average of three rhinos a day are being killed in the wild. Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are made from keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails and hair.  San Diego Zoo Global has one of the most successful rhino breeding programs in the world. To date, there have been 93 southern white rhinos, 68 greater one-horned rhinos and 14 black rhinos born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A crowd at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park celebrated World Rhino Day by assembling a 60- by 44-foot image depicting Nola, the Park’s beloved 41-year-old northern white rhino.

Volunteers Create Sky Art Photo of Beloved Northern White Rhino, Nola

In celebration of World Rhino Day, almost 200 people—including San Diego Zoo Safari Park rhino keepers, high school conservation club members, San Diego Zoo Global staff members, and Safari Park volunteers—participated in a sky art project at the Safari Park’s African Plains Overlook earlier today. When the art cards were raised in unison, they formed a 60- by 44-foot drawing of Nola, the Safari Park’s beloved northern white rhino—one of only four of this species remaining on the planet.

World Rhino Day is celebrated internationally on Sept. 22 each year, to raise awareness of the five species of rhinos in the world: black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan. World Rhino Day activities at the Safari Park included the Nola sky art; special rhino-themed enrichments for many of the Safari Park’s animals; and a rhino conservation pledge and coloring activity. Guests were also able to meet the rhino keeper team and learn about San Diego Zoo Global’s rhino conservation efforts.

“The plight of rhinos in the wild is reaching a critical stage, with the current poaching crisis, and there is an urgent need to protect this iconic species for future generations,” said Jane Kennedy, lead mammal keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Today, our rhino keeper team and Safari Park staff are sharing information about rhinos, with the hope people will gain a greater appreciation for these animals and want to do everything they can to save the species for future generations.”

San Diego Zoo Global has been working for decades to help rhinos, and has one of the most successful rhino breeding programs in the world. To date, a total of 93 southern white rhinos, 68 greater one-horned rhinos and 14 black rhinos have been born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

To further its commitment to rhino conservation, San Diego Zoo Global is building a Rhino Rescue Center at the Safari Park to house more southern white rhinos, establishing the Safari Park as a sanctuary to protect these rhinos and their offspring—at a time when an average of three rhinos are killed each day in the wild by poachers. Taking a science-based approach, researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, along with collaborators, are also developing reproductive techniques necessary to preserve the genetics of the critically endangered northern white rhino and all rhino species.

For more information on San Diego Zoo Global’s rhino conservation efforts visit endextinction.org/rhinos.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Sept. 22, 2015 by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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How and Why We Came to Sequence Northern White Rhino Genomes

What is astounding, and hopeful, is that the frozen cell cultures banked in the Frozen Zoo® represent a significant sampling of the genetic diversity of northern white rhinos and a potential means for preventing extinction of this form of rhino. From our first northern white rhino cell culture established over 35 years ago, through the last northern white rhino calf, born in 2000 and added to the Frozen Zoo in December 2009, there is more of the gene pool of these rhinos in the Frozen Zoo than survives in the living animals. Given the dire situation, we are driven to accept that the only way to prevent the loss of the northern white rhino will necessarily involve the resources of the Frozen Zoo.

How and Why We Came to Sequence Northern White Rhino Genomes by Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., Director of Genetics

Genetic material from 12 northern white rhinos is banked in the Frozen Zoo.

It is a long and improbable road that brought the last female northern white rhino in the Western Hemisphere, Nola, from the grassy swamps of the headwaters of the Nile, via the Khartoum Zoo and Eastern Bohemia Zoo in Czechoslovakia to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where I recently was able to watch and listen to her eat her breakfast. The satisfying sound of her chewing is a sound that, like the species itself, faces extinction, I reflected. Perhaps even more improbable is that her frozen cells will contribute to rescuing the northern white rhino from extinction. Yet, we are resolute to try.

How and Why We Came to Sequence Northern White Rhino Genomes by Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., Director of Genetics

Nola is the last northern white rhino in North America.

Since the first moment I learned about the existence of the northern white rhino, the question of their difference from the now more numerous southern white rhino was at the forefront. Legendary South African conservationist Ian Player, the man who led the effort to bring southern white rhinos back from a small and vulnerable population that was reduced in number to less than 100 to, now, the most numerous form of rhinoceros, posed the question the first time we met. It was another legendary individual, Dr. Kurt Benirschke, the founder of the conservation research effort at the San Diego Zoo, who had brought us together. With Dr. Benirschke’s support, a postdoctoral scientist, Matthew George Jr., conducted the first genetic studies comparing northern and southern white rhinos and published the findings in 1986. Since his initial studies, our own efforts and those of other investigators have added to our initial findings. All the studies provide evidence that the two forms are genetically diverged, but the methods used over the years have now been superseded by advances in genome sequencing that have taken place over the last decade.

How and Why We Came to Sequence Northern White Rhino Genomes by Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., Director of Genetics

Dr. Oliver Ryder holds a tissue sample from the Frozen Zoo.

Comparison of the sequenced genomes of northern white rhinos with southern white rhinos will provide an objective assessment of the divergence of the genomes of the two rhino forms. This “crash” of data will shed light on the question of whether they are sufficiently divergent to be considered species or subspecies. Whatever the revelation on this matter, it will be overshadowed by the detailed knowledge of the DNA sequences encoding their behavioral and ecological adaptations that have evolved since their divergence from a common ancestor, and the time frame over which these changes took place. The ability to resolve these and other questions is a hallmark of the entry into the era of genomic biology, and serves as an example of how this emerging science can contribute to conservation of biological diversity. Knowledge of the northern white rhino genome and its expression will, as we strive to turn the cells of northern white rhinos in the Frozen Zoo into young rhinos, serve as roadmaps for our efforts.

Oliver Ryder is director of the Genetics Division at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

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What’s it like to work with the rarest rhino in the world?

I started working at the Safari Park in 1983, and was working with the animals by 1984. The most frequently asked question I’ve had is “What is it like to work with rhinos?” Of late it’s been “What is it like to work with the rarest rhino in the world?”

One of my charges is Nola. She is one of only four northern white rhino alive on our planet. Their story is well known; the northern white rhino population has gone from 2000 in the 1960s, to 500 in the 1970s, to just 4 today. None of the four remaining animals can breed, so the only thing left for them is extinction.

Jane (left) & fellow keepers clip Nola’s nails

For me and the team that I work with here at the Safari Park, that’s just unacceptable. The Safari Park has been a captive breeding haven birthing more than 20,000 mammals, many of which are endangered. We are the most successful breeding facility in the world! The Safari Park has helped bring back species like the California condor, the Arabian oryx, the giant panda, and many others that could be lost to extinction if it weren’t for the work we do. The thought of not doing everything we can to help the northern white rhino is unimaginable. Yes, it will be complicated and difficult, but we can do it if we work as a global team.

Jane tends to Nola

Jane tends to Nola

As keepers, our part of the puzzle isn’t developing the science we will need, our part is to give the hands-on care these rhinos need to survive and thrive. For me, that means giving Nola the best care she can receive for her remaining days. At 41 she is the oldest recorded female northern white rhino. Her last day can be any day. My job is to make every one of those days a good one. It usually involves apples and alfalfa (something we now know is not a good thing for white rhino) and of course some love in the form of scratches behind her ears. For the rest of her life I am charged with being her lead keeper; the human she can most rely upon to take care of her. I plan on doing this job to the utmost of my abilities and give her the love that she needs.

You are part of her team too. Every time you support San Diego Zoo Global you support Nola. Your dollars will make the Rhino Rescue Center a reality. What I will do for you is share Nola’s remaining days with you. You can be part of her team that makes sure every day is a good day. Watch for my posts about Nola and what her days have been like. Thank you for caring about her, and all of the other animals being protected from extinction here at the Safari Park and San Diego Zoo. What we do makes a difference.

Jane Kennedy is lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous post, Feeling Better and Getting Her Nails Done: Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Gets Pedicure.

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24 Rhino Facts You Should Know

It’s estimated that a rhino is poached every 8 hours. At this rate, rhinos could become extinct in 15 years.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

In total, there are less than 30,000 rhinos remaining on Earth.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

A group of rhinos is sometimes called a “crash.”

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Rhinos may look indestructible, but their skin is actually quite sensitive, especially to sunburn and biting insects.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

All rhinos are herbivores.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Rhino gestation lasts 15 to 16 months. The only animal with a longer pregnancy is the elephant.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Newborn calves are able to stand on their feet and start to nurse two to three hours after birth. ­

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Because rhinos are very nearsighted, they often charge when startled; in the wild, rhinos have been observed charging at boulders or trees.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

The biggest threat to rhinos is humans; civil war in their native lands and poaching for their horns has decimated wild populations.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

The demand for rhino horn has gone from subsistence hunting by locals to highly organized international crime rings.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

In 2014, the toll from poaching was the worst yet: a horrifying 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Close to 100 known rhino species have existed. Today, only five continue the line: two native to Africa (black and white) and three native to Asia (Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran).

The rhino’s ancestors walked the Earth 55 million years ago.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Black, white and Sumatran rhinos have two horns; Javan and greater one-horned rhinos have one.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know 25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Despite their name, black rhinos and white rhinos are the same color – brownish gray.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Black rhinos can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour).

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Standing at up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) at the shoulder, white rhinos are the largest rhino species and the second largest land mammal.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

White rhino males can be persistent, with courtship lasting 5 to 20 days.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

There are only five northern white rhinos remaining on the planet. One of them, an elderly female named Nola, lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

The three Asian rhinos use enlarged incisors or tusks, rather than their horns, when fighting or defending territory.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

All three Asian rhino species are excellent swimmers.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of the five rhino species and the only type covered with a coat of shaggy hair.

25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Through collaborative, science-based, multidisciplinary conservation efforts at the Safari Park, we have successfully added the births of 93 southern white rhinos, 66 greater one-horned rhinos, and 13 black rhinos to the worldwide population.

sdzsp-southernw sdzsp-greater 25 Rhino Facts You Should Know

Lend a hand to save rhinos. Write “STOP KILLING RHINOS” on your hand and post your photo to Instagram or Twitter with the #Rally4Rhinos hashtag. Learn more HERE.

#Rally4Rhinos

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. See her previous post, Best of Vine: Safari Park.

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Strategy to Save Northern White Rhino Is Launched; New Genetic Technologies Offer Hope for Species

Global_logo_color webWith support from the Seaver Institute, geneticists at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are taking the initial steps in an effort to use cryopreserved cells to bring back the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction. Living cells banked in the Frozen Zoo® have preserved the genetic lineage of 12 northern white rhinos, including a male that recently passed away at the Safari Park. Scientists hope that new technologies can be used to gather the genetic knowledge needed to create a viable population for this disappearing subspecies.

  “Multiple steps must be accomplished to reach the goal of establishing a viable population that can be reintroduced into the species range in Africa, where it is now extinct,” said Oliver Ryder Ph.D., Director of Genetics for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “A first step involves sequencing the genomes of northern white rhinos to clarify the extent of genetic divergence from their closest relative, the southern white rhino.”

The next step would require conversion of the cells preserved in the Frozen Zoo® to stem cells that could develop into sperm and eggs.  A process to do this was successfully developed in the laboratory of Dr. Jeanne Loring of the Scripps Research Institute and published in 2011.

“If we can take reprogrammed cells and direct them to become eggs and sperm, we can use in vitro fertilization to generate a new animal,” said Jeanne Loring, Director of Regenerative Medicine for the Scripps Research Institute. “Bold new initiatives are required to save endangered species, and we recognize the application of stem cell technology using cells in the Frozen Zoo® provides hope for preventing extinctions, with scientific innovation helping to lead these efforts.”

Researchers at the Safari Park have been working for decades to breed the species but had only four aged individuals to work with. After the recent death of the male rhino, Angalifu, reproductive physiologists from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research collected and cryopreserved 200 vials of sperm and 75 vials of testicular tissue.  This sperm, along with previously collected semen saved in the San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo®, will be utilized for future assisted reproduction efforts.

“The reproductive system of rhinos is very complex and there is still so much we do not know,” said Barbara Durrant Ph.D, reproductive physiologist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “We will meet the challenge to save this beautiful animal by combining recent advances in genetic and reproductive technology with our expertise in animal care and welfare.”

The Seaver Institute has awarded San Diego Zoo Global $110,000 to fund whole genome sequencing of northern and southern white rhinos in an effort to characterize genetic diversity. Understanding the genetic differences between rhino species will allow scientists to determine what assisted reproduction mechanisms may be used for future conservation.

“The Seaver Institute supports fundamental research and innovative inquiry for particular projects that offer the potential for significant advancement in their fields,” said Victoria Dean, President for the Seaver Institute. “We are interested in supporting this project which will take advantage of the, until now, theoretical value of the Frozen Zoo.”

Only one northern white rhino, an elderly female, remains at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Three other northern white rhinos are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The five remaining rhinos are all of an advanced age and have not reproduced.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide.  The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
 

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Feeling Better and Getting Her Nails Done: Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Gets Pedicure

Northern white rhino Nola receives a regularly scheduled pedicure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Northern white rhino Nola receives a regularly scheduled pedicure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Nola, a critically endangered 40-year-old northern white rhino, received some pampering and a pedicure earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. While keepers Jane Kennedy and Mary Weber-Evans gave Nola a rub down and scratched her ears, keeper Ken McCaffree trimmed the 4,000-pound rhino’s nails. The elderly Nola, who was under veterinary care for a sinus infection until recently, is feeling much better and seems to enjoy the extra-special care by her keepers.

Most rhinos wear their nails down just by walking, but Nola’s nails grow at a particularly fast rate. To provide optimal health, keepers provide Nola with nail trims about every three weeks. She is the only rhino at the Safari Park who receives pedicures. Keepers use the same type of tools to trim Nola’s nails as are used to trim horses’ hooves. Most pedicure sessions last about 30 minutes, but keepers work as long as Nola will allow. When Nola is done, she lets the keepers know by standing up and walking away.

Nola is one of just five northern white rhinos left in the world. Three other northern white rhinos are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The five remaining rhinos are all of an advanced age and have not reproduced. Poaching for its horn has brought the northern white rhino to such critically low numbers. 

Photo taken on Feb. 19 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291