White rhinoceros are also known as the square-lipped rhino because of their broad lips used for grazing. They can be distinguished from other rhino species by their long skull and more pronounced shoulder hump. White rhinos have two horns with the front horn averaging two feet in length. Rhinos belong to the perissodactyla, or odd-toed ungulate, family, having three toes per foot.
Diet: The wide lips of the white rhino are adapted for grazing on large quantities of grasses. Rhinos identify their food using their sense of smell as they have poor eyesight.
In the Wild: Considered the most sociable of the five rhino species, females are typically seen with their most recent offspring. Occasional groups of up to 14 individuals can be observed, but these groupings are often temporary. Dominant males are solitary and will only tolerate females and sub-adults in their territory. Males mark their territory by defecating on dung piles, spraying urine, and using their feet and horns to mark plants. Breeding occurs year round, with mating rituals lasting one to three weeks. After a 16 month gestation, one calf is born. Calves are very active and are weaned about two years after birth.
Conservation issues/actions: Rhino horn is prized in Asian and North African markets for traditional medicine and to make ornately carved handles for ceremonial daggers. The northern white rhino has been poached to functionally extinct with only two females left. Southern white rhinos are the most populous of all rhino species with more than 20,000 individuals, but are still affected by poaching, habitat loss, and climate change.
At the Zoo:
Thanks to positive reinforcement, the rhinos at Reid Park Zoo participate in voluntary blood draws. As a reward, the rhinos enjoy to be brushed. Zoo guests can reserve a behind the scenes tour to meet the rhinos. Learn more about behind the scenes opportunities here. https://reidparkzoo.org/visit/activities/