Jahi, a greater one-horned rhino, will soon leave the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens for a new home at The Wilds in Ohio. Jahi's move is a recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The Wilds is a fellow AZA-accredited zoo.
"The Central Florida Zoo has been home to Jahi since he was two years old. We've watched him grow into a magnificent rhino," says Elena Lamar, Deputy Director of Animal Operations. "However, we are happy that he will have this opportunity to serve as an ambassador for his species at The Wilds, and contribute to the zoological population of greater one-horned rhinos."
Greater one-horned rhinos, native to parts of Asia, are faced with pressures from habitat loss and poaching for their horns. Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same thing that makes up our hair and nails. However, this does not decrease the high demand for rhino horn to be used in traditional medicines, and some estimate that rhino horn is worth more than gold on the black market. Although protection from the governments of India and Nepal have led to a slight increase in population in recent years, greater one-horned rhinos still only exist in a few protected areas, with about 2,500 wild rhinos remaining.
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens participates in 30 SSPs for various species. SSP programs are coordinated efforts across AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to ensure that zoological populations remain healthy and genetically diverse. SSP's mission is to oversee the population management of select species within AZA member institutions and to enhance conservation of the species in the wild. There are close to 500 SSP programs for species in AZA-accredited facilities ranging from large megafauna such as elephants, rhinos, and gorillas, to smaller, lesser-known species such as Panamanian golden frogs, Aruba Island rattlesnakes, and more.
Jahi came to the Central Florida Zoo at two years old from Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. For the past four years, he has lived alongside another greater one-horned rhino, PJ, at the FAIRWINDS Credit Union Rhinoceros Outpost. As they mature, greater one-horned rhinos become solitary, only coming together for breeding or territory disputes. PJ will be monitored closely by his animal care staff after Jahi's departure, although the two have already been spending time apart.
This weekend will be your chance to wish Jahi a warm farewell! On June 3, there will be several special activities for guests to participate in to help the Zoo wish Jahi goodbye, including a goodbye banner for all to sign.
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