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White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

Life in Captivity

Captive reproduction

  • Estrus cycle variable
    • Lasts 30-35 days, 60-70 days, or a combination of long and short cycles

North American Zoos

  • Current population size
    • Southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) (from Charlton 2015)
      • 216 individuals, housed across 53 facilities as of 2014 October 2
        • 92 males, 122 females, and two juveniles
    • Northern white rhinoceros (C. s. cottoni) (from ZIMS 2015, San Diego Zoo Global 2015)
      • Last individual; housed at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, deceased as of 2015 November 22
        • Only two others in captivity, Kenya Ol Pejeta Conservancy
  • White Rhino cam at the Houston Zoo in Texas

San Diego Zoo Global

  • Noteworthy events
    • 1962 September
      • First pair of southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo
      • Obtained from Umfolozi Game Reserve, Zululand as part of a strategy to save the subspecies from extinction by breeding them in captivity
    • 1971 February
      • First group (20) of southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    • 1972 October
      • First southern white rhino calf, Zibulo, born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
    • 1970-1990
      • More than 75 births occur within 20 years
    • 1991-2015
      • 94 total southern white rhinos born as of 2015 November 6
      • Rhino Rescue Center established, 2015 November
      • Last remaining northern white rhino in captivity dies; San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Current population (from ZIMS 2015)
    • San Diego Zoo
      • No white rhinos housed at the zoo, as of 2015 February 12
    • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
      • Southern white rhinoceros
        • 10 individuals, as of 2015 February 12
          • 3 males, 7 females
      • Northern white rhinoceros
        • None, last individual passed away 2015 November 22 (Nola, female)
          • 41 year old
            • Captive breeding efforts were not successful
  • Rhino Rescue Center, San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research & Collaborators (San Diego Zoo 2015)

Critically Endangered Northern White Rhino

Nola, a white rhino, gets a vet exam

Nola, a northern white rhinoceros receiving veterinary care at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Nola passed away in 2015. As one of then just four members of her subspecies left in the world, Nola's care was of the utmost priority for staff. All 3 currently remaining northern white rhinos have reproductive issues; reproductive efforts have yet to be successful.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Emslie and Brooks (1999)
Jones (1991)
Roth and Brown (1999

ZIMS (2015)
San Diego Zoo (2015)

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