Black Rhino Moves from San Diego to Tanzania
Eric, a male East African black rhino from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is now a resident of Tanzania!
Born at the Safari Park in 2010, Eric arrived in Tanzania on September 11, 2018. His genes are well represented in rhinos in North America, so he was an excellent candidate for relocation. We gifted him to the government and the people of the United Republic of Tanzania, where we hope he will help increase the black rhino population in their native habitat, the greater Serengeti ecosystem. Black rhinos are critically endangered, so any of Eric’s offspring will be welcome additions.
Eric will be cared for and reside at Singita Grumeti, a private, protected wildlife reserve. Singita Grumeti is working with the Tanzanian Wildlife Management Authority and Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute to conserve wildlife and, in this project, to increase the local population of black rhinos in their native habitat.
A Big Move
For several months before Eric's move, keepers at the Safari Park began preparing him. He was gradually introduced to his travel crate and eventually was very comfortable in it. His diet was changed from pellets, hay, and produce to leaves from bushes and trees that he will eat in the wild.
Weighing in at 2,550 pounds, Eric was transported in his travel crate by cargo plane from Los Angeles International Airport to Serengeti National Park Airport. He was accompanied by animal care teams from both the Safari Park and Singita Grumeti and did very well during the trip.
Upon arrival in Tanzania, Eric's travel crate was loaded onto a flatbed truck and driven to his new home. The animal care team at Singita Grumeti will help Eric acclimate to his new surroundings in stages. If all goes well, he will soon be introduced to a female rhino named Laikipia. They will live in a proactively managed Rhino Intensive Protection Zone and Eric will be monitored with a tracking device. The rhinos will be protected by elite anti-poaching scouts, a canine unit, high-lying observation posts, and other security measures.
Eric was identified as a good candidate for translocation to Singita Grumeti by the black rhino's Species Survival Plan, a species management program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Species Survival Plans are designed to ensure healthy, genetically diverse populations of endangered and threatened species.
Once plentiful in eastern and southern Africa, black rhino populations have been decimated by decades of poaching. There are now fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remaining on Earth—and only 740 eastern black rhinos, like Eric. It's estimated that there are only 50 to 100 black rhinos in the Serengeti ecosystem. Eric makes one more!
Update, September 12, 2019:
Eric is thriving at Singita Grumeti, a protected wildlife reserve, where he lives with his girlfriend, Laikipia. Now we’re hoping for a calf! Eric’s big move was the first time we’d ever attempted to move a rhino back into its native habitat—this success is a milestone in rhino conservation. Now we have a blueprint for a successful relocation and can replicate the process for other rhinos, and even other wildlife species.
Thanks to support from friends like you, we’re building partnerships around the world and using all our resources to bring rhinos back from the brink of extinction.