First rhino born at Atlanta Zoo will soon depart to help endangered species

First rhino born at Atlanta Zoo will soon depart to help endangered species

ATLANTA, GA (WTVM) – Jabari, a 2-year-old male eastern black rhinoceros born at Zoo Atlanta, is leaving Atlanta to play an important new role in the preservation of one of the planet's most endangered mammal species.

Jabari's next chapter begins May 2, 2016, when he will travel to a new home at Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City, Kansas, where he will be introduced to a female eastern black rhino.

"Jabari has the distinction of being the first rhino ever born at Zoo Atlanta in our 127-year history, so he's very special to us here at the Zoo," said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. "We're proud that he'll now get to play his own individual part in preserving a species that without conservation action faces extinction in our lifetimes."

Jabari's move is a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Rhino Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which works to ensure healthy, genetically diverse and self-sustaining animal populations within North American zoos. This is a goal that is especially crucial for this critically endangered species.

Now found in the wild only on preserves in Africa, primarily Kenya, eastern black rhino populations have declined by as much as 90 percent over just three generations, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Their most pressing threat is illegal hunting for their horns. Although rhino horns are made of keratin – the same material found in human hair and fingernails – a demand persists for their use in traditional medicines, and rhino horn has been valued as highly as gold on black markets.

Born August 17, 2013, Jabari has been living independently from his mother, 9-year-old Andazi, since early November 2015. Eastern black rhinos are solitary in the wild and are weaned from their mothers when they are around 2 years old. Jabari's father now lives at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Zoo Atlanta celebrates eastern black rhinos and invites Zoo Members and guests to get involved in rhino conservation at Save the Rhino Day on Saturday, April 30.

Highlights will include a Rhino Keeper Talk, family activities, educational games and exclusive Save the Rhino Day buttons. Button proceeds will benefit Save the Survivors, an organization devoted to caring for wild rhinos injured by poaching attempts.

Copyright 2016 WTVM. All rights reserved.