What's it like being right next to an animal that's as big as a dinosaur? Watch this video and find out!
The Memphis Zoo is home to two beautiful Southern White Rhinos, Maggie and Kito. Maggie is around 27 years old and Kito is only 9 years old. The two of them are a pair of breeding rhinos, so the zoo is hopeful they will have babies one day.
According to the keepers at the zoo, these rhinos are basically “like tanks and puppy dogs mixed together.” They are fairly calm in nature and they love human contact, especially in the form of getting scratched behind their ears and around their eyes. However, as sweet as they are they can be startled easily and can move all of their weight in a certain direction without warning. They weigh around 5,000 pounds each, so the keepers use a procedure called “protected contact.” In the behind-the-scenes area at the Memphis Zoo, the keepers care for the rhinos with a giant metal barricade between them, a safeguard against the rhinos’ incredible size and weight.
More on Southern White Rhinos
Southern White Rhinos, like their kin the Black Rhino, live in sections of sub-Sahara Africa. White rhinos actually get their name from having a wide-lip. The English word “white” is said to have been derived by mis-translation of the Dutch word “wijd”, which means “wide” in English. They primarily eat grass, so having that wide lip makes it easier for them to pull up their food from the root. This specific species of rhino is considered “near threatened,” and officials estimate there are only around 20,000 left.
One of the notable differences between a white rhino and a black rhino is their mouths. While white rhinos have the wide mouth, black rhinos lips are more pointed, making it easier for them to pick berries off of trees and tall bushes. These rhino species are facing a major struggle with poachers in Africa. They are poached primarily for their horns, which are highly-sought after by the medical trade in Asia.