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Little Rock Zoo welcomes new rhino

A female rhinoceros has become the newest member of the Little Rock Zoo family and will join Johari in the Africa animal exhibit next week.

Ten-year-old Andazi, an eastern black rhino, was transferred from Zoo Atlanta as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Little Rock Zoo is an active participant in several such programs that aim to increase the zoological population of many threatened species.

“Shared conservation efforts of this nature are critical to help keep species like the black rhino from going extinct in our lifetime,” Little Rock Zoo Director Susan Altrui said. “To be considered for this program speaks highly of our Zoo, and we are thrilled to welcome Andazi to her new home.”

Black rhinos are solitary herbivores that stand about 5 feet tall and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Once the most numerous of the world’s rhino species with a population of nearly 850,000, the black rhino is now considered critically endangered with an estimated 5,000 animals remaining in the wild, according to the AZA. Habitat loss and a resurgence in poaching have threatened the horned mammal, which is found primarily on preserves in four countries in Africa.

Keepers will start introductions slowly, allowing Andazi to acclimate to her new area before meeting Johari, the Zoo’s male rhino. Andazi gave birth to one calf while in Zoo Atlanta. Johari, who turned 22 on March 10 and has lived at the Zoo since 1996, has never sired any offspring.

The SSP programs exist to ensure that zoological populations remain healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining. The Little Rock Zoo is home to a number of species on the SSP list, including gorillas, chimpanzees and African penguins. In addition to the SSP program, the Zoo supports the conservation efforts of such groups as the International Rhino Foundation and Save the Rhino.

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