LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Thursday is World Rhino Day and Elephant Appreciation Day, and the Little Rock Zoo is planning observances to raise awareness of the plights of these endangered species.
Zookeepers will celebrate with Johari, the zoo’s black rhino. On Sunday, October 2, Asian elephants Sophie, Babe and Zina will be in the spotlight.
Today’s schedule of events for each observance is as follows:
* 9:30 a.m. – Children make enrichment items
* 10 a.m. – Elephant keeper chat
* 1 p.m. – Enrichment placed out for rhino
* 1:30 p.m. – Rhino keeper chat
* 2 p.m. – Bathing demonstration at elephants
* 2:30 - 3 p.m. – Rhino open house
Additionally, on October 2, guests will be able to purchase paintings created by the elephants.
Such observances play a vital role in conservation, said Susan Altrui, the Zoo’s assistant director.
“We are losing elephants at the rate of 96 a day in Africa. If this continues, African elephants could be extinct in the wild within the next 20 years,” she said. “In Asia, some predictions have Asian elephants disappearing within three generations. The plight of rhinos is no better. There are only 29,000 rhinos left in the wild, including 40 to 60 of the rarest species, the Javan rhino.”
Poaching elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns is a major threat to these animals, followed closely by habitat loss. In Africa especially, conflicts between elephants and humans are on the rise. Deforestation in Asia has led to fragmentation of rhino populations preventing the animals from breeding.
The Little Rock Zoo supports the conservation efforts of such groups as 96 Elephants Inc., International Rhino Foundation and Save the Rhino. Proceeds from the sale of paintings created by the Zoo’s Asian elephants will support elephant conservation.