- WHITE RHINO: White Rhinos are divided into two distinct subspecies: The Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino. (visit the White Rhino page ...)
- BLACK RHINO: Black Rhinos are slowly recovering from a 96% decline in population, and are now up to about 4,860 surviving today, thanks to conservation efforts. (visit the Black Rhino page...)
- INDIAN/GREATER ONE-HORNED RHINO: The Indian, a.k.a. the Greater One-Horned Rhino, or Nepalese Rhino numbers approximately 3,000 today, thanks to conservation efforts. (visit the Greater-One Horned Rhino page ...)
- SUMATRAN RHINO: The Sumatran Rhino, a.k.a. the Hairy Rhino, has suffered a 50% decline in numbers over the last 15 years, due to fragmented habitat, destuction of habitat for palm oil, and unrestricted hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries. (visit the Sumatran Rhino page ...)
- JAVAN RHINO: With fewer than 50 Javan Rhinos surviving in only one known location, the Javan Rhino is quite possibly the most critically endangered mammal on earth. (visit the Javan Rhino page ...)
Rhino Species Fact Sheets - Download pdfs
Check out a list of rhino facts, a giant poster of rhino facts, and a free rhino fact eBook!
Does each Rhino Species have a distinct "personality"?
According to the Experts at the International Rhino Keepers Association, each species of rhino has a unique social requirement (i.e., housed in a group, pair or solo) - and personality! (Note: There are no Javan Rhinos in captivity, so the information isn't available regarding this species.)
White Rhinos: "White rhinos reproduce more successfully when housed in a herd, and only a few institutions can house a herd of rhinos ... Males can be housed alone but prefer to be housed with at least one female. Females are housed with at least one other female if no male is present, depending on the size of the enclosure ... White rhinos handle hotter climates well, but do need access to a mud wallow to protect their skin from sunburn and insects. White rhinos don’t swim so pools are not necessary and can sometimes be a hazard if they are deep.
All animals can benefit from having physical and mental stimuli, and enjoy playthings. This can be large logs or fallen tree to push around, scents to change the smell of their environment or more toy-like items such as balls or puzzle feeders. Keepers and the public can also be a good source of enrichment through training and monitored public animal encounters. Most white rhinos enjoy interacting with the public as long as a good scratching is involved."
Black Rhinos: "These rhinos can be quite active, running the length of their exhibit. Depending on the climate, an inside exercise area is needed for the winter months along with heated rooms. The enclosure must have adequate shade, a mud wallow, and outdoor enrichment items ... Extreme care should be used when pairing rhinos, especially in smaller areas. The ability to separate the rhinos is a must.
Enrichment is an important part of the care and maintenance of black rhinos. These rhinos benefit from having play items, as most captive animals do. Another form of enrichment is allowing the public to get close to these rhinos. In spite of their reputation, when properly trained they can be tamed for many behaviors. This facilitates up close visits by zoo-goers, encouraging a better understanding of these and other rhinos."
Indian Rhinos: "Housing facilities must be large enough to allow the rhinos plenty of room for exercise. These rhinos can be social, and depending on the size of the enclosure several can be kept together at one time. Depending on the climate, an inside exercise area is needed for the winter months along with heated rooms. Lounging under water with just their noses sticking out is a common practice of these rhinos.
Daily enrichment of Indian rhinos is not much different than that of other rhino species. These rhinos benefit from having play items, such as heavy boomer balls to push around. Enrichment can also come in the form of shade trees which double as a food source. Another form of enrichment is allowing the public to get close to these rhinos. Their temperament can be quite docile at times, making them candidates for an up close visit on a behind-the-scenes tour."
Sumatran Rhinos: "Housing facilities must be large enough to allow each rhino to have it’s own yard for exercise. Depending on the climate, an inside exercise area is needed for the winter months along with heated rooms. Only mothers and their offspring are housed together for long term. Males and females are only brought together for mating. The enclosure must have adequate shade, a mud wallow, outdoor enrichment items and preferably a pool.
Sumatran rhinos enjoy enrichment as do other rhino species. These rhinos benefit from having enrichment items, as most captive animals do. Enrichment can even come in the form of shade trees. Using feed species of trees such as mulberry or Chinese elm provides not only necessary shade, but also an afternoon snack when leaves and berries fall from the trees. Another form of rhino enrichment is the training session with their keeper, leading to an overall positive captive environment."
Enrichment items enjoyed by captive care rhinos (from the IRKA website):
- Browse hangers on trees
- Rootballs from large dead trees planted upside down exposing rootball. Good for sticking browse and hiding other goodies.
- Logs, hung up or loose
- Shift rhinos back out onto exhibit overnight
- Waterfall and pool
- Semi-tactile contact with other rhinos on a variable schedule (especially when housed alone)
- Fruit ice blocks
- Boomer ball with circular openings to put food inside
- Bowling ball
- Hanging tire on a chain
- Bamboo windchimes
- 55 gallon drum, loose or hung on a zipline
- Recorded audio clips of other rhinos
- Conspecific scents or fecal material
Additional information regarding rhino husbandry is available here.
Rhinos: A modern dinosaur
Rhinos have existed on Earth for over 50 million years and have a glorious history. In the past, rhinos were much more diverse (representing many different ecotypes) and widespread (occurring in North America and Europe as well as in Africa and Asia). Today, only 5 species of rhino survive. These 5 species are further divided into 11 identified subspecies. All Rhino taxa are under threat of, and all but 1 taxon are on the verge of, extinction. Only 17,500 of these marvelous creatures survive in the wild with another 1,200 in captivity. Of these rhinos, almost two thirds are of a single subspecies: the Southern White Rhino. There are only around 6,000 of the other 4 species combined.
The world population of rhinos has declined from about a million in 1800 to approximately 18,000 today (the majority of which is the recovered population of White rhinos in Africa). The biggest reason is poaching for rhino horn, but habitat loss is increasingly a factor endangering the species. Rhino poaching supplies a black market for ornamental handles of daggers in Yemen (called jambiyas) and for "traditional Chinese medicine" in much of Asia. Habitat destruction caused by logging of forests and human settlement in protected areas is shrinking opportunities to recover lost populations of endemic rhinos. Furthermore, political conflict within and neighboring countries with protected areas is destabilizing law and order and undermining anti-poaching efforts. Poverty worsens under such conditions, and rhinos are increasingly caught in snares set to trap bushmeat.
Rhinos and the Ecosystem
Because rhinos are mega-herbivores, they have a big impact on the ecosystem. They crash paths through dense brush and forest and make way for other animals. Their dung enriches soil nutrition and structure, and contains seed that can germinate it own ready-made pile of fertilizer. They also dig to create wallows, establishing pools of water benefiting other species such as frogs and insects that need them to complete their lifecycles. Rhinos are also charismatic – one of the “Big Five” that attract tourism dollars that fund the conservation of all species in a protected area. Information courtesy of International Rhino Foundation (IRF).