January 2013 - Rhinos in Jacksonville – Successes and Failures
Jacksonville Zoo History 1914-2014
Featured January 2013
Alan F. Rost, Biological Programs Registrar and unofficial Zoo historian
Rhinos in Jacksonville – Successes and Failures
Historically, the Jacksonville Zoo has managed two kinds of rhino – the Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and the Southern White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum). We held black rhinos from 1960-1970, 1972-1982, and 1996-2002. Unfortunately, we were not able to breed this form of rhino.
Our experience with the white rhino was quite different. Our first pair, Dublo and Omgawa, arrived from the Umfolozi National Park in Africa in April 1967. Our first pair didn’t breed for us. This was a period when the zoo world was still learning that the white rhino was a social species that didn’t breed well in captivity when kept in pairs. In December 1975, we added a trio, Archie, Edith and Wrinkles, which is when reproduction started at the Jacksonville Zoo. Our first white rhino birth in January 1979 to Archie and Wrinkles didn’t survive the day, but our second rhino baby, Gloria, born in March 1979 to Archie and Edith, did survive. Gloria prospered and was the beginning of a very successful white rhino breeding program at the Jacksonville Zoo.
Historically, the Jacksonville Zoo has produced fourteen rhino calves. That may not seem like a lot, but it makes ours one of the more successful programs. With several of the calves surviving, there was a period in the 1990s when white rhino offspring produced here could be found around the world, including locations such as Germany and New Zealand. Also in the 1990s, it began to be recognized that there was a problem in getting captive born white rhinos to produce offspring themselves. At that time there were only six captive born white rhinos in North America successfully producing offspring, and one of those was our first surviving calf, Gloria.
Our current female, Gabriella, is also a captive born female that has successfully produced offspring. Our male, Archie (both pictured below), is the same wild-born Archie that arrived in 1975 and has sired all of our offspring. He is now about 43 years old, which is fairly old for a rhino. Archie was one of the few rhinos in captivity in history to be recommended not to breed because he had already produced so many offspring.