Preventing Health Issues by Monitoring the Activity of Our Rhinos

The status of rhinos in the world is alarming: of the 5 species still represented, 3 are critically endangered. Rhinos are being poached mainly for their horns, and the therapeutic benefits allegedly derived from them. Today, there are fewer than a hundred Javan rhinos and Sumatran rhinos left in the wild.

Faced with this unsettling situation for these pachyderms in the wild, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), of which Granby Zoo is a member, decided to form the American Institute of Rhinoceros Sciences (AIRS). This coalition of experts from 6 accredited zoological institutions’ main objective is to develop a strategy to save the species based on scientific data collected in zoological settings!

The Zoo de Granby is part of 47 AZA accredited institutions that harbour white rhinos. The team was enthusiastic about volunteering for this large-scale study. The first step requires that the coalition of experts collect information on the use of available space in the animals’ habitats, as well as the daily activity level of the rhinos targeted by the project. To do so, bracelets will be placed on the legs of our two individuals, KC and Shaboola. This is done in order to calculate the number of steps they take on a daily basis, and to geolocate them in their environment, somewhat like with the smart watches we put on our wrists! Data is collected over a period of two weeks in summer and two weeks in winter, when our rhinos are moved to their indoor quarters. An outside specialist in the field will come to observe our specimens for a couple of days as well.

Once the results from about ten participating institutions have been gathered and analyzed, the information will be used to establish the coalition of experts’ priorities for the continuation of the project. These same experts will also be able to share a series of recommendations with the entire zoo community with the goal to promote physical activity and mental health for their animals. These recommendations will include, among others, how their habitats could be organized in order to help maintain a healthy population within a zoological setting.

The Zoo de Granby is proud to participate in this initiative aimed at the continuous improvement of methods used in the cares given within a zoological setting, respecting a global species protection approach. Our accredited zoos all share the responsibility for the well-being of their residents, and are truly part of the solution for re-establishing populations in the wild.