Oklahoma City Zoo’s rhino getting used to new digs

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: May 23, 2009 at 7:17 am •  Published: May 23, 2009
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One of the few captive rhinos in the United States arrived this week to live at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Niki, a 2½-year-old female, arrived Thursday from the Bronx Zoo in New York, said Laura Bottaro, mammal curator at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Niki was brought here to mate with Chandra, a 24-year-old male, as part of a nationwide program called a species survival plan, Bottaro said. They likely won’t mate for a while.

"We’ll give her another year to grow,” Bottaro said, "and then we’ll put them together.”

After a 44-hour trip on a specialized tractor-trailer, Niki is a little nervous in her new surroundings, Bottaro said.

Keepers are spending lots of time helping Niki adjust to her home, which allows zoo visitors to get much closer than at her old exhibit in New York. She will be kept in the indoor portion of her habitat and blocked from visitors for several days, Bottaro said.

"We need patience, and Niki needs patience,” Bottaro said. "It’s really up to her to decide when she’s going to tolerate large amounts of people.”

Niki will live in the rhino habitat formerly occupied by Mary, a 17-year-old female shipped to the Singapore Zoo last month. Officials hope Mary will breed with other rhinos in the region and increase the diversity of the gene pool, Bottaro said. Mary is scheduled to go on exhibit soon in Singapore.

Pet Show Blog: View a photo album of archive rhino pix in honor of the zoo's new rhino

Pet Show Blog: View a photo album of archive rhino pix in...


Indian rhinoceros
Weight: About 5,000 pounds

Height: About 6 feet at the shoulder

Horn: 8 inches to 24 inches long

Captive U.S. population: 31 males and 36 females

Captive global population: 65 males and 68 females

Wild population: About 2,700, considered an endangered species

Wild habitat: Nepal, India and Pakistan

Lifestyle: Typically solitary

Also known as: Greater one-horned rhino

Other rhino species: White, black, Sumatran and Javan

Source: International

Rhino Foundation, Oklahoma City Zoo

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Pet Show Blog: View a photo album of archive rhino pix in honor of the zoo's new rhino

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