We all know that fitness is important for us, but did you ever think about fitness for other species? Like rhinos? Well, some of our colleagues did, and they came up with a plan to study our rhinos and others under human care here in North America.
The American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS) is a “coalition of expert rhino scientists that will investigate avenues for optimizing the health and well-being of rhinos under human care” consisting of collaborators from the Cincinnati Zoo, The Wilds, Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, George Mason University, the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation (SEZARC), and Stellenbosch University, South Africa. The study, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, plans to focus on the research needs of rhinos, including physical fitness and its relation to health, along with iron storage in browsing rhinos, reproductive success, and behavioral and environmental factors that can maximize rhino well-being. That’s where our rhinos come in.
So, how do you gather information about the fitness of a rhino? First, you find some cooperative rhinos. Check. Take measurements such as girth, length, body mass, and heart rate. Check. Outfit the rhino with an activity tracker. Check. The rest is up to the rhinos. Data collected by the trackers will help us understand how the rhinos use their habitat throughout the day and at night, thus giving us a better understanding of their habits. White Oak is one of over 40 facilities participating in gathering information on their rhinos to help us understand rhino physiology.
We are excited to be part of a project such as this. It is a great example of how the collaboration of numerous organizations can work towards a single goal, in this case improving the health and well-being of one of the most iconic species in the world. #conservationcontinues #weloverhinos #ittakesallofus