Rare rhino sent to Wildlife World Zoo in West Valley for breeding program
PHOENIX — The Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park in Litchfield Park has welcomed a new guest – a massive male White Rhino named Maoto.
The rhino comes from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to kick off a breeding program that is set to bring in completely new blood lines to improve genetic diversity for managed populations of the species, the zoo said in a press release.
As part of a dedication to rhino conservation, Wildlife World Zoo has been consulting, researching and planning the innovative breeding program to help fight against the extinction of the species. The program is part of the zoo’s rhino facility that opened in early 2018.
“This breeding program has been nearly a decade in the making and it feels great to know that everyone’s hard work has finally paid off,” Kristy Morcom, Wildlife World Zoo’s director of media relations, said in the release. “We are all so excited to be entering the next phase, which is welcoming baby rhinos that will become the front runners in saving their species.”
The rhino population has fallen to only 29,000 in the wild, down from 500,000 at the start of the 20th century, according to the release.
The five living rhino species (Black, White, Greater One-Horned, Sumatran and Javan) are in danger from poaching, forest loss and human settlements encroaching on their habitats in Africa, Indonesia and India. The Western Black Rhino – a subspecies of the Black Rhino – was already declared extinct in 2011 due to poaching.
Poachers kill the rhinos for the animal’s horn, which is sold on the black market, according to the release.
“It’s immensely rewarding to know that Wildlife World had the resources and capabilities to import our female rhinos from Africa where they are no longer at risk of being slaughtered by poachers and provide them and Maoto a natural environment to procreate,” Morcom said.
The rhino joins the more than 6,000 animals on display at the zoo made up of over 600 species, according to the release, with keepers and veterinarians raising dozens of wild and endangered animals since opening the 100-acre park 36 years ago.
Wildlife World Zoo at 16501 W. Northern Ave. is open seven days a week, including all holidays. The exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with the last zoo admission for the day occurring at 4:30 p.m.
Admission includes access to the zoo, aquarium (which is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and safari park.