Although most people think “Africa” when they hear “rhino” Asian rhinos are more endangered than the African species. In the past, CREW scientists focused on two of these Asian species, the Sumatran rhino and greater one-horned (GOH) rhino. They succeeded in unraveling the mysteries of breeding Sumatran rhinos in managed care while developing artificial insemination for producing genetically valuable GOH rhino calves. However, the landscape has changed, and the deadly poaching epidemic that started in Africa in 2008 now imperils all rhino species. Therefore, CREW’s conservation research efforts are increasingly important for ensuring that all rhinos thrive, including those in our zoos. Our most recent project – the American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS) is a bold initiative aimed at doing exactly that.
American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS)
CREW is partnering with The Wilds, Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment, George Mason University, the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation, and Stellenbosch University, South Africa, on a new, big initiative, taking rhino science and collaboration to a new level while helping to save rhinos from extinction.
Below is a summary of Cincinnati Zoo’s involvement with Sumatran Rhinos and the most recent news about Harapan’s baby 🙂.
Here are a few bullets and links to more info:
- The Sumatran rhinoceros is one of the most endangered animals on Earth with approximately 80 individuals distributed throughout fragmented rainforests of Southeast Asia.
- Only nine rhinos, including two babies, are in the managed breeding program in Sumatra.
- Almost all of those have roots at the Cincinnati Zoo!!
- In 1984, an international breeding program was formally established for Sumatran rhinos, but efforts to propagate these rhinos in multiple U.S. zoos initially failed.
- In 1997, scientists at Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), led by Dr. Terri Roth, initiated research using endocrinology and ultrasonography to learn about the reproductive physiology of the species.
- CREW’s scientific breakthroughs led to the first Sumatran rhino calf bred and born in a zoo in 112 years at the Cincinnati Zoo on September 13, 2001.
- Another calf, Suci, was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004.
- Harapan was the third, and last, Sumatran rhino to be born as part of the U.S. breeding program. He was born at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2007.
- Also in 2007, Andalas was relocated to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) on the island of Sumatra
- In June 2012, Andalas’s mate, Ratu, gave birth to a healthy male calf named Andatu. – First calf born in SE Asia at SRS
- In 2015, Harapan, the last Sumatran rhino in the western hemisphere, was sent to SRS with the hope that he would contribute to the survival of his species. NOTE: A reporter from WCPO went along on Harapan’s 10,000-mile journey to Sumatra. Some great material here.
- May 12, 2016 – the second Sumatran calf born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary arrived. Her name is Delilah (mother of the new calf)
- In 2016, CREW staff traveled to SRS to do semen collections on Harapan and Andalas (NOTE: I went along on this trip and have tons of material)
- 2017 – Andalas’ father Ipuh dies and his DNA is used to sequence the genome of the species (Dr. Roth is pictured with the preserved Ipuh at Cincinnati Museum Center – Fun fact – Ipuh is now visible at U.C.)
In addition to being responsible for the existence of about 10% of the world’s remaining Sumatran rhinos, Cincinnati Zoo’s beloved Ipuh has now helped scientists trace the start of his species’ population decline and provided basic biological information that may improve the health and well being of future generations. An international team of researchers used […]
- March 2022 – Andatu, son of Andalas, sires his first calf; it is also the first calf for dam Rosa who is over 20 years old.
- October 2023 – Andalas sires a third calf!!
- November 25 – Harapan sires a healthy male calf – see release below!!!
- The Cincinnati Zoo and its Indonesian partner, the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, are the only two places in the world that have succeeded in breeding the Sumatran rhino in the last century.
I got carried away and couldn’t stop. There’s so much more to this story!!
p.s. – Keep reading below…
Sumatran Rhino Breeding Program at the Cincinnati Zoo
After years of research, scientists at Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), led by Dr. Terri Roth, unraveled the mysteries of Sumatran rhino reproduction and, in 2001, Andalas was born. He was the first calf bred and born in any zoo in the world in 112 years. In 2004, his sister, Suci, was born, and in 2007, Harapan arrived. Between 2001 and 2012, the Cincinnati Zoo held the distinction as the only place successfully breeding this endangered species. The Zoo partnered with Indonesian and Malaysian colleagues to transfer knowledge and techniques so that they too could succeed. In 2007, the Cincinnati and Los Angeles Zoos agreed to send Andalas to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS). That sacrifice on the part of the LA Zoo, where Andalas was living at the time of his transfer, paid off in spades in 2012 when Andalas’ healthy son was born in Sumatra.
Since then, Andalas sired a calf in 2016 and another in 2023. His elder two have now produced calves, and Harapan is the father of the one born on November 25, 2023.
The Cincinnati Zoo works closely with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the Indonesian Rhino Foundation, the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group and the International Rhino Foundation, to protect this species in the wild and also propagate Sumatran rhinos in zoos.