Taronga Western Plains Zoo has commenced its third Rhino breedingprogram with the importation of a female Greater One-Horned (or Indian)Rhinoceros. Three-year-old Amala was transferred from Los Angeles Zooin the USA to join Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s resident male GreaterOne-Horned Rhino, Dora.
The Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Benn Bryant travelled to LosAngeles in July to escort Amala on her trip to Australia. Amala,weighing approximately 1000kg, travelled 36 hours by plane and truckfrom LA to Dubbo in a purpose built crate.
“Moving an animal of this size across continents is a hugelogistical exercise,” said Dr Bryant. “Amala remained very calmthroughout the journey and was unloaded at Taronga Western Plains Zooon 11 July.”
After completing quarantine at the Zoo’s Veterinary and QuarantineCentre, Amala was transferred to the Zoo’s Wild Asian Wetlands, whereshe has spent the last few months settling in to her new home.
“Amala and Dora are currently in separate yards but they do havefence contact on a daily basis,” Dr Bryant said. “Amala is quite asocial Rhino and often vocalises with Dora. He in turn is quite curiousabout her. Once Amala reaches maturity she will be introduced to Doraduring breeding season, as Greater One-horned Rhinos are solitary andusually only come together to breed.”
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is internationally renowned for its workwith Rhinoceros species, particularly the critically endangered BlackRhinoceros and the Southern White Rhinoceros. The Zoo will now play aneven greater role in Rhino conservation, with the only captive GreaterOne-horned Rhino breeding program in the Australasian region.
“This is a very exciting time for the Zoo,” said General Manager,Matthew Fuller. “We are strongly committed to this our third Rhinobreeding program and we are looking forward to playing a key role inthe international breeding program for this species in the years tocome.”
With all five remaining species of Rhino under enormous pressure inthe wild due to poaching and habitat loss, breeding programs such asthose at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are critical to the long termsurvival of Rhino species.
“Our Zoo has a wealth of Rhino knowledge having held and bred Blackand White Rhinos throughout the Zoo’s history, with great success, andhaving held Greater One-horned Rhino since 2003,” Mr Fuller said. “Wehave also been involved in ground breaking research into Rhinoreproduction, working collaboratively with the Institute of Zoologicaland Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin to produce the world’s first IVFBlack Rhino embryo in 2008. The work that we are involved in here inDubbo and around the world gives some hope for the future of Rhinospecies.”
In addition to on-site breeding and research programs, TarongaWestern Plains Zoo is a founding member of the International RhinoFoundation, an organisation dedicated to the survival of the world’sRhino species through conservation and research. It is also a member ofthe Asian Rhino Project (ARP), and home to the NSW Branch of theorganisation. The Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Benn Bryant is a memberof the ARP’s Veterinary Support Team for Sumatran Rhino in Way KambasNational Park, Indonesia.
The Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros is an endangered species withapproximately 2700 – 2850 animals left in the wild. The main threat tosurvival is poaching for its horn as well as habitat loss.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located at Dubbo in Central WesternNSW. The Zoo is open everyday from 9am – 4pm. For more informationcontact 02 6881 1400 or visit www.taronga.org.au.