Rhinoceros exhbit enhances Central Florida Zoo


Indian rhinoceros, Jahi, whose name means "dignified," strolls around in his new home.

SANFORD, Fla. - The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens opened the FAIRWINDS Credit Union Indian Rhinoceros exhibit on March 15, at 10 a.m. This exhibit will be the home to a pair of greater one-horned Indian rhinoceros, Jahi and PJ. Arriving first is Jahi, whose name means "dignified." Jahi is one year old and comes to the Zoo from Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo. He currently weighs 3,000 pounds and will weigh approximately 5,000 pounds by adulthood.

Jahi will be joined later this spring by another one year old male rhinoceros, PJ. He will come to the Zoo from the White Oaks Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida. He is named after his sire (father) Patrick and his dam (mother) Jakichu.  PJ's sire was the first Indian rhinoceros born in North America in 1974.

"We are excited to bring rhinoceros to the Zoo," said Joe Montisano, CEO. "With the help of FAIRWINDS Credit Union, our many donors and the Central Florida community we are able to bring this great new exhibit to the Zoo. These animals will help to educate school children and visitors about the plight of these animals in the wild."

The Indian rhinoceros is one of five species of rhinoceros worldwide and one of three species found in Asia.  It is native to the remote, swampy grasslands of India, Assam and Nepal. Their skin resembles armor plating and even though it looks tough they still need to protect it. They have a single horn that can re-grow if broken off. Indian rhinoceros can run fast, up to 24 mph.  They can live up to 45 years.  Indian rhinoceros are listed as Endangered.

"Due to conservation efforts and strict protection in their range countries, Indian rhinoceros populations have increased over the past century.  However with less than 3,000 animals in the wild, Indian rhinoceros still face pressure from poaching.  By bringing rhinoceros to the Zoo we can educate and amaze our guests and assist in the conservation of these magnificent animals," said Bonnie Breitbeil, Director of Animal Collections.

"The Zoo is a vital community resource and we rely on the support of our donors and the community," said Joe Montisano, CEO. "Without their contributions and help we would not be able to bring great exhibits to the Zoo. "

The FAIRWINDS Credit Union Indian Rhinoceros exhibit was made possible by the premier sponsor FAIRWINDS Credit Union and other major contributors including Panepinto Family Fund, Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc., Borrelli + Partners, Mr. and Mrs. Stan Van Gundy, Mr. and Mrs. George Smith, Jack Hanna and the Columbus Zoo, Edward E. Haddock, Jr. Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Parsell, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Landt, Florida Power & Light (FPL), Mr. Jefferson Voss, Mr. and Mrs. Sid Vihlen, Elaine Berol Taylor and Scott Bevan Taylor Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Taylor, Mr. and Mrs. John Miller, Mrs. Linda H. Ottenad, CH2M Hill, Inc., Color Work Painting, Delta Capital Management LLC, Mrs. Adell Bartosch, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Lassiter, and Mr. and Mrs. Brian Wilson.

"The Zoo would like to extend a special thank you to Borrelli + Partners who donated many hours to creating the design of the exhibit. Owner Jorge Borrelli is a member of the Zoo's board of directors and has been involved in many of the improvements and new exhibits at the Zoo, including the river otter exhibit that opened in September of 2012. Jorge and his staff are a perfect example of how our partners are instrumental in bringing a quality zoo to Central Florida," said Joe Montisano, CEO.

About the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens - The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a 116-acre private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and to engaging and educating our guests by sharing knowledge and celebrating our natural world.  For more information regarding the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens visit www.centralfloridazoo.org or call 407.323.4450.  The Zoo is located on I-4 Exit 104 in Sanford and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.