Status in the Wild:
Eastern Black Rhinos, “Jubba” and “Imara,” met on a blind date at the Great Plains Zoo in 2000, and quickly became a pair. Five years later, Imara gave birth to their first calf, “Kapuki”. Newborn rhinos typically weigh between 60-100 pounds, but Kapuki tipped the scales at 103 pounds! Kapuki now lives at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL, and has started a family of her own.
“Jubba” and “Imara” welcomed a second calf in October 2010. Slightly smaller than his sister, “Kiano” weighed 92 pounds at birth.
Eastern Black Rhinos are critically endangered, with fewer than 4,000 surviving in the wild. During the last century, the black rhino has suffered the most drastic decline in total numbers for all rhino species. In 1970, there were an estimated 65,000 black rhinos in Africa – but by 1993 there were only 2,300 surviving in the wild. That’s more than a 95 percent reduction.
Rhinos really don’t have any natural predators; humans are the only enemy of the rhino. Poachers seek their horns because of the price the horns fetch on the black market. Rhino horn is worth about three times its weight in gold. These days, well-organized gangs poach rhinos even from protected reserves, sometimes using tranquilizer guns and helicopters. The horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore, but it actually has no medicinal value. Rhino horn is composed of keratin, the same substance that makes up human fingernails and hair.
The Great Plains Zoo is a key breeder contributing to the success of Eastern Black Rhinos; it now has two of fewer than 70 Eastern Black Rhinos in captivity in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos in the U.S.