The Sumatran Rhino is an ultra-rare animal.
There are no female Sumatran Rhinos in the United States, which means that Harapan, a male Sumatran Rhino in the Cincinnati Zoo in the United States, has no females to mate with. He is also the last Sumatran Rhino outside of Southeast Asia at this point in time, so it’s a safe bet he feels pretty lonely here.
National Geographic notes that Malaysia has already declared that the Sumatran Rhino is extinct in the wild there, so the Cincinnati Zoo will be shipping this male Sumatran Rhino to Indonesia, where the Zoo hopes it will mate with a female there and reproduce to help keep the population in check.
With the situation looking bleak for this species, this is really a final attempt to increase the population numbers of the Sumatran Rhino.
It can be difficult to get animals to mate, and still, there are no guarantees that this will actually work, but it’s worth a try to get this animal’s numbers up so that should something happen to any of the remaining Sumatran Rhinos, there will be new ones to carry on its legacy.
Harapan’s to-be girlfriend is named Rosa, and she is currently in captivity at a breeding ground where Harapan and Rosa will hopefully meet and get jiggy with one another.
“We are hoping she and Harapan will hit it off,” said Dr. Terri Roth of the Cincinnati Zoo. “He’s a really fun rhino. He seems like a little bit of a pistol, quite frankly.”
“We think Harapan has a good chance of contributing to his species and producing calves in Indonesia because we saw his brother do it,” she continued.
Harapan was originally in the U.S. with his sister, Suci, as it was hoped that the two could be inter-bred and produce offspring, but unfortunately, Suci died from excessive iron in her internal organs, leaving Harapan to fend for himself.
The breeding grounds will be under human supervision, which is leading to controversy from people that think these animals should be able to mate in the wild, and not under human care.
“There are some people who think all of the rhinos ought to be taken into captivity and managed intensively and bred,” Roth said. “There are others who still want to protect the wild populations.”
Since the species are incredibly endangered, that’s not likely to happen.
Should the mating idea not work as planned, another option might be to try artificial insemination, which seemed to work wonders for a Giant Panda that recently gave birth to two cubs.
We certainly hope Harapan the best of luck on his arrival at Indonesia and it’s hoped he will also enjoy his potential partner.
Sources: National Geographic, AP