By Miriam Raftery
October 22, 2014 (San Pasqual) – The San Diego Zoo Safari Park in San Pasqual is working to save one of the most endangered animals on earth.
Only six northern white rhinoceros are left in the entire world – and last week, one of the last two males died. That least just one male northern white rhino left—and he’s at the San Diego Safari Park, along with a female.
But they haven’t bred, possibly due to age. In the wild, the animals have been driven to the brink of extinction by poachers in Africa’s Sahara region.
But City Times reports that the situation isn’t as bleak as it sounds.
Andy Blue, associate curator of mammals at the zoo’s Safari Park, says they’ve been successful with other species in similar situations. The Arabian oryx and the California condor are two examples where the species was down to just a handful of individuals left—19, in the case of the condor. Today there are over 400 and some have been reintroduced into the wild.
So how can you save a species where the only surviving male is too old to breed? San Diego Zoo’s global researchers are collecting genetic material preserved from dead northern white rhinos and are looking at alternative forms of breeding such as artificial insemination. Can test-tube baby rhinos be far behind?
The park has had success breeding other rhino species. In fact, its 42 year history, the park has had 169 baby rhinos born there.