An Ohio zoo that has the last Sumatran rhino in the United States on Tuesday announced plans to send the endangered species to Southeast Asia on a mission to mate.
Conservation experts at the Cincinnati Zoo say 8-year-old Harapan will soon be on his way to Indonesia, where nearly all of the estimated 100 remaining Sumatran rhinos live. Numbers of the two-horned descendants of Ice Age wooly rhinos have fallen by some 90 percent since the mid-1980s as development of their Southeast Asia forest habitat and poachers seeking their prized horns took their toll.
Cincinnati's zoo has been a pioneer in breeding the species, producing the first three born in captivity in modern times. Harapan will join the eldest, Andalas, who has been in Indonesia since 2007 and has produced one male offspring. Andalas will turn 14 next month.
"We are very sad about the (Sumatran rhino) program coming to an end here in Cincinnati," Terri Roth, the longtime head of the zoo's Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife, told The Associated Press. "It's a huge loss for us. But it's the right thing, to at least have Harapan able to contribute to survival of the species."