The Buffalo Zoo announced Monica, the Indian rhinoceros, will be moving to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park by the end of October.
Monica's move to San Diego is part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's species survival plan. The goal of the SSP is to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered.
Monica was born at the Buffalo Zoo to mother Tashi on June 5, 2014. At the time, Monica was considered a miracle of science - the result of artificial insemination. She was the first offspring for a male rhino who never contributed to the genetics of the Indian rhino population during his lifetime. Monica's father, Jimmy, died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004, nearly a full decade before the AI procedure took place, using his frozen DNA. Monica is currently the only surviving Indian rhino from AI.
"Monica's birth here at the Buffalo Zoo was a major victory for endangered species and rhinos around the world. Now it's important to continue this great work," Buffalo Zoo President and CEO Donna M. Fernandes said. "Monica has a good chance of becoming a successful mother to many rhinos and contributing to the survival of this important species. And, while we will miss her, we are thrilled to be a participant in this SSP recommendation."
Monica will be moving to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which houses the largest group of Indian rhinos in captivity. By going to San Diego, she will be joining the most successful managed-care breeding program for rhinos anywhere in the world.
The Buffalo Zoo would like to invite the Western New York community to come to the zoo to say goodbye to Monica and wish her well as she prepares to travel to her new home. Monica is expected to leave by the end of this month.
The Indian rhino is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. It is the largest of all rhino species. The rhino also is a conservation success story. At the start of the 20th century, there were fewer than 200 Indian rhinos in the wild. Thanks to strict protection from Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities, that number has increased to more than 3,500.