Rooting for Rhino Rangers

The OKC Zoo joined organizations across the globe as we celebrated the world’s five remaining rhino species on September 22 –World Rhino Day!

The event was hosted by the Zoo’s pachyderm caretakers and included an informational booth where guest could engage in a keeper chat, purchase rhino badges for conservation, take part in photo opportunities and best of all, decorate their own coloring pages for rhino rangers. ​

Throughout the event, over 50 coloring pages were created by guests who hoped to provide encouragement to rhino rangers in Africa who risk their lives every day to protect rhinos. The coloring pages were sent to the Global Conservation Force headquarters in San Diego, California, where they were then shipped to rhino rangers on patrol in Africa. The Global Conservation Force is dedicated to saving wildlife from extinction through education, anti-poaching and conservations efforts.

Conserving What We Love:

At the end of 2015, five species of rhino remained in the world –– Black, Sumatran, Javan, White and Greater one-horned rhinos. Of the five, three were listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and two were listed as near threatened and threatened.

White rhinos have the largest population with roughly 20,000 individuals, while Sumatran and Javan rhinos have less than 100 individuals left in the world.

The greatest threat to these amazing animals is poaching, which is done almost exclusively for their horn. On average, one rhino is poached every 8 hours. Rhino horns are made up of keratin (the same component that makes up our hair and fingernails). Ancient medicine in some countries considers a rhino’s horn to be a healing medicine for many diseases, while in other countries the horn is viewed as a status symbol. If we do not do our part to protect rhinos, they will go extinct in the wild.  

Anti-poaching rangers stand between the poachers and the wildlife they desire. Due to the intensity of the recent outbreak of rhino and elephant poaching; anti-poaching rangers, in some regions of the world, have become more like military teams.

Anti-poaching units hold the shield for wildlife, buying time for action in international laws, local policy change and political stability. The Global Conservation Force provides units with the necessary gear and advanced training to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. This includes focusing on new, customized gear for their region of patrol and technologies that can assist them daily.

What can you do to help?

1) Attend the American Association of Zoo Keeper’s (AAZK) yearly Bowling for Rhinos event – This event is held every July, but the fundraising occurs year round. The proceeds from this event go toward rhino conservation in both Africa and Asia. Follow the Zoo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up-to-date on event details. 

2)  Round Up for Conservation – Any time Zoo guests make purchase during their visit, they can choose to “Round Up for Conservation.” By rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar, guests can help to support the Zoo’s local and international conservation projects. Through this program, the OKC Zoo was able to purchase and preserve 13,000 acres of forest in Sumatra, which directly helps one of the rarest rhino species – the Sumatran rhino.

3) Choose sustainable palm oil products – Choose products that are made with certified sustainable palm oil. An easy way to verify this is by utilizing Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s free Palm Oil Shopping Guide, available as a mobile application for Android and Apple devices.

4) Consider Donating to the Global Conservation Force – 100 percent of your donation will go toward the mission of fighting poaching worldwide. Click here to learn more. 

The OKC Zoo is home to three Indian rhinos– Chandra, Niki and Rupert. We’re incredibly thankful to have three animal ambassadors at the Zoo who inspire guests to care for their wild counterparts. Meet our rhinos and their caretakers during the Zoo’s Wild Encounters, available every day at 3:30 p.m. at an extra cost to guests. To book your encounter, visit

–  Daniel Custar, animal caretaker 

Photo Credit: Global Conservation Force

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