San Antonio Zoo has begun the process of transforming its current rhino habitat. The new habitat will feature additional trees and landscape, a viewing deck, a waterfall with creek, and a mud wallow. The habitat will be home to not only rhinos, but zebras, crown cranes, waterbucks, sitatungas, and marabou storks. The new rhino habitat will be connected to the existing giraffe habitat of The Savanna so that animals can move between areas, creating a true savanna-like setting.
A significant upgrade to the habitat will be the addition of a nursery area. The zoo plans to receive two female rhinos from other zoological facilities when the exhibit re-opens in early 2019 and a male shortly after that to begin a breeding program for Southern White rhinos. San Antonio Zoo was the first facility in America to successfully birth a white rhino in 1972. Since that time, San Antonio Zoo has had twenty rhino births, both black rhinos and white rhinos, throughout its history, with the last being in 2004. Rhino populations are dwindling worldwide due to habitat destruction and poaching. Future rhino births will carry on a decades long tradition of successes in San Antonio and will greatly contribute to the Species Survival Plan for this species.
“The new rhino habitat will create an extension of The Savanna which opened in 2015 and features giraffes, allowing for a larger more naturalistic habitat” said Tim Morrow, CEO and Executive Director of San Antonio Zoo. “Once completed, the rhino habitat will contain a passage that will allow different species of animals the opportunity to move between areas of The Savanna. Our desire is to create enriching opportunities for the animals in our care, and to provide guests with a true African savanna-like experience.”
The 104-year-old zoo has undergone several habitat upgrades and expansions over the past few years, including The Savanna, an exhibit that gives guests the opportunity to feed giraffes, as well as Big Cat Valley, an African lion exhibit allowing guests to come nose to nose and marvel at the big cats through large glass panels. With the new rhino habitat expansion, the zoo has committed more than $6 million to animal habitat updates and facility improvements in the past few years.