Come to the zoo and see Phineus!

Potter Park Zoo’s new endangered male black rhino is now on exhibit

Phineus, the 9-year-old male eastern black rhino who now calls Potter Park Zoo home, is adjusting well and is slowly being introduced to the exhibit. Guests are invited to observe him as he gets to know his new home.

“Phin has successfully completed his quarantine and is building new relationships with his keepers,” said Potter Park Zoo’s General Curator Sarah Pechtel. “He has quite a personality and we expect him to become a favorite of zoo visitors.”

Phineus traveled to Lansing from the Caldwell Zoo in Texas. He will join the zoo’s current eastern black rhino female resident, Doppsee. Both rhinos are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Black Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP).  This program is responsible for overseeing the population of eastern black rhino’s in AZA accredited facilities and recommending pairs for breeding. Potter Park Zoo has received a recommendation to breed Phineus and Doppsee.

There are currently only 20 pairs of black rhinos recommended to breed at all AZA facilities for 2017.

“This is a genetically important pairing for the entire eastern black rhino population, and the Potter Park team is grateful for this opportunity,” said Zoo Director Cynthia Wagner.

Eastern black rhino are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUNC). There are only around 5,000 remaining in the wild and 57 in North American zoos. Poaching has devastated the species. Rhinos are poached for their horn because some cultures believe it has medicinal properties.

In the last three years Potter Park Zoo’s American Association of Zoo Keepers chapter has held a Bowling for Rhinos event to raise money for the species. They have sent more than $10,000 to benefit wild rhino populations. The 2017 Bowling for Rhinos event is scheduled for August 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at City Limits East.

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