Journey has Begun for Cincinnati Zoo’s Harry

Posted October 30, 2015

Last Sumatran rhino in the Western Hemisphere is on his way to Indonesia

Keeper Paul R. and Harry are ready to start their journey to Indonesia

CINCINNATI (October 30, 2015) – After months of preparation to move 1,800-pound “Harapan (Harry),” the only Sumatran rhino outside of South Asia, from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Indonesia, he is on his way.

Harry embarked on the 10,253-mile journey from Cincinnati to the island of Sumatra earlier today, along with Zoo veterinarian Dr. Jenny Nollman, keeper Paul Reinhart and six cases of food. “We’re bringing three kinds of ficus and his favorite treats – apples, bananas and pears.  He’s food motivated, so we’ll offer him something to eat to keep him calm and happy throughout the trip,” said Reinhart.  The rhino and team will spend about 50 hours travelling, via air, ferry and truck, before they reach Harry’s new home in the forest sanctuary located in Way Kambas National Park.

Harry with Paul Reinhart and Dr. Terri Roth

“Our immediate goal is making sure that Harry arrives safe and sound in Sumatra.  Indonesia is receiving a very handsome, healthy and spirited rhino from the U.S., and we hope that after he settles in, he will be successful breeding at the sanctuary,” said Dr. Terri Roth, Director of the Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), who is meeting Harry’s plane in Indonesia and accompanying him on the final leg of the journey to the SRS.  “I think Harapan will be thrilled to hear the voices of others of his kind when he arrives.”

There are fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the world.  The Cincinnati Zoo’s Sumatran rhino breeding program produced three calves, including Harry, between 2001 and 2007, due to groundbreaking reproductive research by Dr. Roth.  The first born, Andalas, was sent to live in Sumatra seven years ago and has thrived, siring his first calf (Andatu) in 2012, with another one on the way.  Paul Reinhart was present for the birth of all three rhinos born in Cincinnati and also witnessed the birth of Andatu in Sumatra. “Nothing would please me more than to hear that Harry has sired a calf.  And, if the team from SRS wants me there to assist with the birth, I’ll be on the next plane over,” said Reinhart.

“The departure of Harapan, the last Sumatran rhino outside of South Asia, is a pivotal moment in wildlife conservation history. He was born at the Cincinnati Zoo eight years ago and is now on his way to the far side of the world to pursue his only chance to breed and contribute to the survival of his species,” said Thane Maynard, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Zoo. “Our keepers and animal health staff have cared tirelessly for Sumatran rhinos at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1989 and Harapan’s departure will leave a void that can’t be filled.”

Also known as the “hairy rhino” because of its hairy body, the few wild Sumatran rhinos left are scattered throughout fragmented rainforests on Sumatra, making it difficult for the animals to find each other and reproduce.  Scientists have declared the species extinct in the wild in Malaysia, dealing another blow to a species that’s already considered the most endangered rhino.

Follow #HopeForHarry for Harapan updates.

About the Sumatran Rhino Breeding Program at the Cincinnati Zoo

After years of research, CREW scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo, led by Dr. Roth, unraveled the mysteries of Sumatran rhino reproduction and, in 2001, produced Andalas, the first calf bred and born in zoos 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 SRS to replace an old, infertile bull.  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’s healthy son was born in Sumatra.

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.