Monarto revives the zoo's links with rhinos going back to arrival of Mr Rhini in 1886
White rhinoceroses at Monarto Zoo.
Image courtesy ZoosSA
Monarto Zoo is working in a world first with The Australian Rhino Project to move 80 endangered southern white rhinoceros to Australia to safeguard the species while the poaching crisis in Africa is brought under control. Potentially Monarto Zoo could become home to around 30 rhinos starting in 2018.
But Adelaide Zoo’s experience with rhinos goes back to its start when the zoo’s first director R.E. Minchin paid £66 and brought Mr Rhini, a Javan rhinoceros, from Borneo, 1886.
When Mr Rhini arrived in Adelaide from Singapore in the mid 1880s, he was the only rhinoceros in Australia and was one of Adelaide’s zoo’s most popular attractions. He arrived in Adelaide with some buffaloes, lepers, tiger cats, alligators, an Indian tapir and a sun bear.
Mr Rhini, who died in 1907, was mistaken for an Indian rhino, until this was corrected by a professor at the South Australian Museum where the animal is now displayed. Mr Rhini's species is critically endangered, with less than 50 Javan rhinos in the wild in West Java, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Interest in Mr Rhini has been revived through a book by Geoff Brooks, author of Game in Transit: A history of the Rhino in South Australia, and one of Monarto Zoo’s longest-serving employees has been involved in the zoo’s 21st Century rhino program since the first white rhino Uhara arrived in 2000 from Singapore Zoo on a long-term breeding loan.
The dominant breeding bull Satara and other adult female Umquali arrived at Monarto Zoo in 2002 from the Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Uhura and Umquali are mothers to the five rhino calves born at the zoo. Kibibi (princess in Swahili) in 2012 was the first female calf born at the zoo.
Monarto Zoo in 2018 had six southern white rhinoceros and two black rhinoceros.
The Australian Rhino Project, working with Monarto and other Australian zoos, aims to maintain a viable population, with targeted genetics and demographics, to ultimately allow the African rhinoceros to go back to their natural habitat and homelands. More than 1,300 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone in 2017.
Zoos SA will have a 500-hectare enclosure for the white rhinos coming to the 1,500-hectare Monarto Zoo. The new rhinos will be sent to a third country for a quarantine period before they are moved to Australia.