The Oklahoma City Zoo’s three-week old Indian rhino now has a name.
Rupert was the winner in an online poll conducted by the zoo. It was one of three choices, two of them with an Oklahoma City Thunder theme.
About 8,300 votes were cast, with 4,244 for Rupert, or 51 percent of the vote. Russell was second with 28 percent, and Garjan finished third with 21 percent.
Russell is a tip of the hat to Thunder star Russell Westbrook and Garjan is the Hindi word for Thunder.
Rupert is a twist on the rupee, the official currency of India.
The zoo staff narrowed the list down to three from their own selections. Rupert was considered the staff favorite.
“We all were pulling for that one, so it’s always fun when you get the name you were hoping for,” keeper Katie Reimers said. “We had been keeping an eye on the comments section on Facebook and one of the other keepers saw a NewsOK poll, so we knew Rupert was winning that poll.”
Reimers said Rupert, who is still nursing, has bonded well with his mother. The rhino is gaining about two to three pounds per day and is expected to weigh as much as 4,000 pounds when fully grown. He currently weighs about 205 pounds.
“He’s running around and bugging his mom like a good little kid should,” Reimers said. “He’s starting to pick up leaves and grass and sticks to investigate those a little bit, but he’s not eating them quite yet.”
Rupert turns 1 month old this weekend, and the first 300 children who enter the zoo Saturday and Sunday will receive party favors at the turnstiles. Keeper connections will be at 11:30 a.m. both days at the rhino habitat. It’s a chance for visitors to ask questions about Rupert, and his mother, Niki.
The zoo also will hold its Bowling for Rhinos event at 7 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Lanes in Oklahoma City. All proceeds go to benefit rhino conservation projects in Asia and Africa.
Matt Patterson, Staff Writer