29 Dec 2016

The footage of bolshie calf Ike playfully jumping on mum, Zuri, has emerged ahead of World Rhino Day – celebrated globally on Fri 22 September. Ike is one of two critically endangered Eastern black rhino calves born only weeks apart at the zoo earlier in the year.The arrival of the precious duo was hailed by conservationists as it is believed less than 650 of the sub-species now remain across Africa, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).In the wild, a huge surge in illegal poaching, driven by a global increase in demand for rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market, has resulted in around 95% of all rhinos being wiped out in the last century.The issue is being driven by the street value of rhino horn, which is currently changing hands for more per gram than gold, diamonds and cocaine. However, modern science has proven that rhino horns are made primarily of keratin, the protein found in hair, fingernails and animal hooves.

Stuart Nixon, our Africa Field Programmes Coordinator, said:

You’re likely to get exactly the same health benefits by chewing your own fingernails as you are taking powdered rhino horn. Yet in South African alone, more than 500 rhinos have been killed so far this year.The IUCN estimates that, on average, almost two rhinos have been killed every day in Africa for nine straight years and they could be extinct in as little 10 years. Rhinos need protecting, not poaching.

We are currently home to 10 critically endangered Eastern black rhinos and two greater one-horned rhinos.

Through our Act For Wildlife conservation movement, we have also recently provided support for rhino protection to its partners the Big Life Foundation in Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya and the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania.


Chester Zoo and rhino conservation in Africa

  • Eastern black rhinos are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The growing price of rhino horn has led to a massive decline in rhino numbers, which have decreased by around 95% across Africa since the turn of the 20th century. 2014 was branded ‘the worst poaching year on record’ by leading conservationists after over 1,200 rhinos were hunted in South Africa alone – a 9,000% increase from 2007
  • We are fighting for the survival of Eastern black rhino and have long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect black rhinos and continue to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries in Africa
  • Our Black Rhino Programme started in 1999, in partnership with Save the Rhino, providing substantial financial support to Kenya Wildlife Service to enable the translocation of 20 black rhinos to wildlife reserves in the Tsavo region of Kenya
  • Recently twe have also provided support for rhino protection to its partners the Big Life Foundation in Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya and the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania
  • In June 2015, the world’s leading experts on rhinos and rhino conservation came together in Europe for the first time when we hosted over 100 zookeepers, researchers, scientists and conservationists from the USA, Australia, Africa and Europe to debate issues surrounding the five species of rhino – black, greater one-horned, white, Sumatran and Javan rhino

Chester Zoo and the conservation-breeding of Eastern black rhinos

  • We have been successful in breeding a number of critically endangered black rhinos and plays a vital part in the international breeding programme, helping to ensure an insurance population exists in the event that black rhino become extinct in the wild
  • The latest arrival means that 10 Eastern black rhino calves have now been born at the zoo in the last 20 years
  • Our director general, Dr Mark Pilgrim, is responsible for managing the European breeding programme for the Eastern black rhino
  • Ground-breaking science by our team has contributed to the zoo’s successful black rhino breeding programme. Our researchers have spent several years carefully monitoring the hormone levels of their resident female rhinos in a bid to discover the best time to introduce them to a potential partner. These hormone levels are monitored by analysing rhino dung. Tracking hormones gives an insight into what is going on inside the animals. It can help tell things like whether or not an animal is a seasonal breeder, whether it has reached puberty, whether it’s cycling on a regular basis or not and when the optimum time to introduce a male to a female is, as well as diagnose pregnancies and estimate when an animal will give birth