Flamingo Land is currently renovating the old mangabey and bat house, into our new Indian Rhino exhibit. The building has been extended and improved, and fixtures are now been fitted to accommodate our new residents. The rhino should be arriving towards the end of the summer or early autumn. This will be an exciting time for all our zoo staff and the visitors to the park too. Although we already have White Rhino at Flamingo Land, the Indian Rhino will be kept in a completely separate enclosure to them. Natively, White Rhino are from Africa, whereas Indian Rhino are from Asia.
The Indian Rhino only has one horn, unlike the two horns on the White Rhino. This horn is made out of a protein called keratin, the same protein which makes up fingernails and hair. Unfortunately, this horn, if removed from the rhino, can sell for lots of money. Weight for weight wise, it is worth more than gold. This puts all species of rhino at a threat from poachers due to the high value of their horn. The removed horn is used for oriental medicine, and is believed to cure certain medical illnesses and diseases, although there is no proof that it does actually work. Another threat for the rhino is the conversion of the natural grassland where it lives, to commercial farmland. This was a particular problem in the early 20th century, when the number of Indian Rhino actually dropped to just 20 individuals. But conservation efforts within India and Nepal have dramatically increased the population numbers to around 2,800 individuals. A large proportion of these rhinos are only found in a protected area. Therefore they could be at serious threat if they happened to catch a serious disease or suffered from a natural disaster as it could quickly wipe out a large number of these animals. Hence, it is important that conservation efforts continue to ensure that the population of Indian Rhinos becomes spread out over a larger area.
To welcome the Indian Rhino to Flamingo Land, we will be holding different crafts and activities each week during the summer period, such as decorating bunting, making tree decorations, colouring sheets, Indian Rhino crafts, help to paint a giant rhino model and rhino badge making. These will be held both near the new Indian Rhino enclosure and inside our Education Centre. We also have an Indian Rhino-linked trail around our zoo running all through summer. So if you’re planning on visiting Flamingo Land this summer make sure you come and help us get ready for rhinos!