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Rhinoceros
Beni , then 28 years old had arrived from Regent's Park Zoo, London, and Zulu . When she was just coming into oestrus for the first time (after 20 years on anoestrus at London!)

© David Bell, Glasgow, 1989
The White rhino
White Rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum

The White rhino owes its name to a misunderstanding. British settlers, hearing the Afrikaners referring to Weijt rhinos did not realise this meant wide-mouthed rhinos, taking instead the sound of the word literally.

The wide clomping mouth is used for grazing over grasslands, unlike the pointed lips of the Black rhino which is more of a browser or nibbler of leaves and bushes.

The White rhino has:

  • Few body hairs - hairs are not needed for insulation. Large animals retain heat more easily than small ones because their body surface is smaller proportionate to body size.
  • Ear flaps - long, moveable and trumpet-like ears help to locate sound.
  • Horns - the two horns are formed out of matted, hardened hair. " Rhinoceros " comes from the Greek and means " nose-horn ".
  • Long head and wide mouth - adaptations for grazing. Rhinos have a fine sense of smell, aided by an enormous nose.
  • Leathery hide - Rhinos and Elephants are traditionally called " pachyderms ", Greek for " thick skins ". Wallowing in mud is good for their skins and discourages skin parasites.
  • Hump - contains ligament supporting weight of the massive head.
  • Legs - are massive to support great weight of body. Look out for knee and ankle joints.
  • Hooves - there are three hooves - these are enlarged toe-nails of the 3 middle digits. In horses (close relatives of rhinos) the hoof is the middle toe.
White rhinos are divided into two sub-species, the northern form " cottoni ", and the southern form; " simum ". Ours are of the Southern form and originated in the Jmfolozi Reserve in South Africa in the early 1970s, arriving in Glasgow in 1975.

One of originally two males from the herd at Whipsnade Zoo, the other male was sent in the mid-1980s to Le Jardin des Plantes in Paris as one of a pair with a young female from Edinburgh Zoo. We are happy to say that several calves have subsequently been produced. The female, Beni , from Regent's Park (who arrived in Glasgow soon after the other male left) died at Christmas 1995 of old age-related disorders. We await the advice of the Species Co-ordinator as to what will happen next. We hope another female will be allocated to us.

In the meantime, our male, Zulu lives on his own - as he would in the wild - holding his own territory through which he would expect small groups of females to wander from time to time. It is up to us to provide, if not a group, then at least one female!

The white rhinos - the largest and heaviest of the five rhino species - are actually languorous beasts, gentle grass eaters; and often form small herds, unlike the other rhinos. They are fond of wallowing in mud. Their dung is deposited in selected areas to mark their territory - as can be observed in their enclosure.

Zoo's White Rhinos are on a Baby Boom

Edinburgh Zoo's white rhinos Umfolozi and Kruger have become proud parents - for the 11th time.
It is quite unusual for a pair of white rhinos kept on their own in this way to breed so regularly and productively.
There was a time when some zoos felt it necessary there should be an element of competition among the males to encourage them to mate with the females.
As Zulu, the male at Glasgow Zoopark, wasn't doing his stuff, so to speak, we tipped a dustbin-full of Kruger's dung each morning into the Glasgow enclosure to make Zulu think he had a rival.
It worked - he spent a happy hour or two knocking hell out of the dung heap each day.
When Zulu arrived in 1975, he was accompanied by another adult male, Massa, who later moved to Les Jardin de Plantes Zoo in Paris, where he has since sired a succession of healthy calves.

Black Rhinos in Zimbabwe Under Threat

Conservationists are concerned that the current unrest in Zimbabwe may be putting animals at risk. More than 3000 black rhinos roam free in the country, but it is feared that poachers could take advantage of the current state of turmoil, and prey on the beautiful beasts.

Their sought-after horns can fetch up to 10,000 per kilo on the black market, so there is an obvious profit to be made for those cruel enough to sacrifice the rhinos.

The animals currently live either in national parks, or in private ranches and sanctuaries, where they are usually protected by armed guards and sometimes even confined behind high fences.

It has been proven in the past that poaching in the country is not just organised by a few individuals. The poachers usually hunt in well-organised gangs are are heavily armed.

Let us all hope that law and order is restored quickly to protect the people and animals of the country.

For details of a 1835 visit to Glasgow by a Rhino click Here

International Rhino Foundation