Common Name: Southern White Rhinoceros
Scientific Name: Ceratotherium simum simum
At the zoo: Theodore, AKA Theo (male, 5y); you'll find him at the front of the zoo. I'm sure like us you'll find him Theodorable!
Savannas, grasslands, open woodlands, and forests of southern Africa.
Herbivorous - grasses and leaves
Conservation Status: Near Threatened
Biology & Conservation:
White rhinos are one of the largest terrestrial mammals. They have a relatively calm disposition and are non-aggressive unless directly threatened. They are very important for the ecosystems they inhabit as they help increase the biodiversity of grasslands and prevent wildfires by grazing the grasses too short for the fires to spread. They also have a valuable economic importance for communities by increasing tourism.
Thought to be extinct in the late 1800s, white rhinos have made a remarkable recovery thanks to intense conservation efforts by many countries and organizations. Today, organizations such as the International Rhino Foundation continue the fight to save the 5 remaining species of rhino, 3 of which are critically endangered.
White rhinos are not named for their colour but for their wide mouth - a mistranslation from another language.
More about Theo and rhinos:
The Greater Vancouver Zoo has a new family member: Theodore (a.k.a. Theo) the southern white rhinoceros! Theo was born in 2017 at Toronto Zoo in Ontario, Canada. We are thrilled the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for southern white rhinos has chosen us to help with this species’ recovery efforts. The SSP is an important international effort to aid species at risk to maintain genetically diverse and biologically sound populations. Animals in captivity play a vital role in supporting wild populations through programs like the SSP, Taxonomic Advisory Groups, and the Zoological Information Management System.
Southern white rhinos are found throughout southern Africa in extant, reintroduced, and assisted colonization populations. They are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). There are 5 remaining species of rhino, 3 of which are critically endangered. The northern white rhino was declared functionally extinct in 2018 when the last male passed away. It is vitally important to act now to protect all rhino species as they are widely persecuted for their horns which are erroneously believed to have healing properties in traditional medicine.
Over the past fifteen years, there has been an explosion in illegal trade and poaching of rhino horn which has sent wild rhino populations into crisis. The GVZoo is committed to expanding our conservation efforts to not only educate about the plight rhinos face in the wild, but to support in-situ conservation that will help protect wild rhinos by contributing to protect key rhino populations, rehabilitate rhino habitat, and support local communities through training and technology.