Eastern black rhinoceros in exhibit

Eastern Black Rhinoceros

Scientific Name
Diceros bicornis michaeli
Geographic Range
Kenya and Tanzania
Leafy plants, branches, and shoots
Eastern black rhino in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Critically Endangered

About This Animal

Five surviving rhino species exist in the world: black, white, Sumatran, Javan, and greater one-horned rhinos. White rhinos and black rhinos are African, and the eastern black rhino is a subspecies of black rhino. White and black rhinos aren’t actually differently colored—black rhinos may be named for the fact that dark mud covers them after they’ve wallowed in it.

Did you know? Black rhinos are smaller than their “white” counterparts, and they may also be differentiated by the fact that they have a pointed, prehensile upper lip they use for grasping branches and leaves while eating. Eastern black rhinos range in size from 4.5–6 feet in height and weigh between 1,760–3,080 pounds. Rhino horns grow throughout their lives and can get to five feet long. The horns are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails.

Male rhinos are solitary and territorial. Females’ ranges overlap with one another and they tend to be more social. Some have been seen gathering at waterholes. Members of this species are active in the morning and evening, sleeping during the hottest parts of the day. To communicate, they use scent marking.

When courting, pairs stay together for up to 30 days and then separate. The female has a gestation period of 15 to 17 months, then gives birth to a single calf in a sheltered spot. Infants weigh 65–100 pounds and can stand within just a couple of hours. They are independent after about two years of age.

Black rhinos have experienced the most drastic decline of all rhino species; their numbers dropped by 98 percent between 1960 and 1995 to a population of less than 2,500. They are poached for their horns and habitat loss has also contributed to their decline. Today, thanks to focused conservation efforts, their population stands at more than 5,000—but the threats remain.

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We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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