Wild Rhinos & Chicago Scientists

I’m troubled by recent reports that African rhinos are falling prey to poachers in increasing numbers over the past few years. Organized crime rings slaughter the animals for their horns, which are sold in Southeast Asian medicinal markets.
Lincoln Park Zoo is working to save black rhinos and is actively engaged in conservation efforts in South Africa. We support field researchers who are studying rhino stress and reproduction in the Addo Elephant National Park. These field scientists work in tandem with Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., director of the zoo’s Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, who analyzes data to determine the best ways to protect wild rhinos.
Visitors to Lincoln Park Zoo are well aware of our exhibition of species. Crowds marvel at the three eastern black rhinoceroses at Regenstein African Journey. Some know that we are waiting for the young female to mature before initiating a breeding program for her. (We’re all excited about the potential for rhino calves in Chicago.)
But visitors may not be as informed about our ex-situ efforts—our conservation programs for species that span the globe. These initiatives, though not as visible as our zoo animals, are crucial components of Lincoln Park Zoo’s mission to protect species while educating audiences about them.
To quote a line from a recent Science News article, “Given the scale of the biodiversity challenge, it is vital that conservation bodies and policymakers consider the potential that zoos as a global network can provide.”
As always, I’ll keep you posted.

 Kevin Bell