In a Tuesday morning press statement, the San Antonio Zoo announced plans to expand and convert its rhino facility into a new large scale "Savanna" which will connect to the existing giraffe habitat to create a more natural roaming space.
With the full expansion, the rhinos and giraffes will share a watering hole with zebras, crown cranes, waterbucks, sitatungas and marabou storks.
When the exhibit opens in early 2019, the zoo plans on obtaining two new female southern white rhinos from neighboring zoo facilities as well as a single male to begin a breeding program for the endangered species.
The San Antonio Zoo has a storied history with maintaining the rhino population, which is threatened worldwide as a result of poaching and habitat encroachment.
Since 1972, when the zoo successfully birthed the first white rhino in America, the facility has delivered 20 black and white rhinos, the last being in 2004.
“The new rhino habitat will create an extension of The Savanna which opened in 2015 and features giraffes, allowing for a larger more naturalistic habitat,” said Tim Morrow, CEO and Executive Director of San Antonio Zoo. “Our desire is to create enriching opportunities for the animals in our care, and to provide guests with a true African savanna-like experience.”
In its 104 years, the zoo has undergone several large expansions including the Big Cat Valley, where guests can safely stare into the eyes of African lions. The new rhino habitat is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $6 million.
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