Halls Gap Zoo joins white rhino breeding program

Two southern white rhinos at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1994. Photo: AP
Two southern white rhinos at the San Diego Wild Animal Park in 1994. Photo: AP

HALLS Gap Zoo will join an international effort to revive numbers of the threatened southern white rhinoceros. 

The zoo will become part of an international endangered breeding program and will welcome two male rhinos in September next year.

One rhino will travel from New Zealand and the other from Canberra.

The zoo has launched a fundraising campaign, The Great Grampians Rhino Rumble, to raise $250,000 to build a new enclosure and transport the animals.

Campaign spokeswoman Loretta Wylde said the rhino program had been three years in the making for the zoo.

“We’ve been negotiating with other international zoos as part of an endangered animal breeding program,” she said.

“The zoo will receive two male rhinos to start a breeding herd and once a genetically suitable female becomes available, the zoo will receive her as well to start the process.”

Ms Wylde said transporting the rhinos to the zoo and housing them was going to be a big task.

“We need as much help as we can get to get them to the Grampians,” she said.

Ms Wylde said the rhino from New Zealand would be flown to Australia, while the one in Canberra would be transported by road.

“It will be a big process – the one from New Zealand will need to spend six months in quarantine at a wildlife reserve in NSW first,” she said.

“They will then need to be introduced to each other – they are very social animals, that’s why we needed to get a minimum of two males.”

Ms Wylde said rhinos needed enclosures that were large and had certain features, like wallows and specific plants. 

She said the zoo launched its official online crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday. 

“We hope that with this first stage of fundraising we can raise $25,000,” she said.

Stage one of the funding will pay for animal transport costs and quarantine services, earthworks and fencing.

Stage two will include a shelter shed and wallow and stage three will include landscaping works. 

“There will also be more fundraising events in the future and the community has already been very generous with donating prizes,” Ms Wylde said.

“The zoo is much loved by people in the region.”

She said people could go to chuffed.org/project/rhino-rumble to donate.