The Cincinnati Zoo has been home to the only breeding project in the United States for the critically endangered Sumatran rhino, but this year marks the end of an era. 8-year-old Harapan is the last rhino of his kind in the U.S., and so in a effort to help save his species Harapan is being moved to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, in the Way Kambas National Park of Indonesia, where it is hoped he will breed with a female resident and help ensure the future of the species.
There are only around 100 Sumatran rhinos left in the world, and nine of those live in captivity–their population has dropped rapidly, by 90 percent, since the 1980s, and last month the Sumatran rhino was declared extinct in Malaysia. As with many other rhinos, their existence has been threatened by deforestation and the persistent trade in rhino horn.
The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of their species, and are also known as “hairy rhinos’ due to a distinctive fur that shows their direct descent from woolly ancestors. Until last year, Harapan had a female mate, Suci, at the Cincinnati Zoo, but she passed away from a hereditary illness before they successfully bred.
Once in Indonesia, Harapan will join a 14-year-old male Sumatran rhino named Andalas, who was bred at the Cincinnati Zoo and moved to Asia in 2007. In the intervening years he has already sired one offspring, and there is hope that Harapan will be able to have the same success.