Conservationists believe there may be fewer than 100 Sumatran rhinos left on the planet and two of them are at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harapan, a 6-year-old male who was born in Cincinnati, has been brought back to his birthplace in hopes that he’ll mate with Suci, his older sister.
Dr. Terri Roth, director of the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, says mating siblings is unusual and not typical—but it’s necessary since the species is so critically endangered.
“We’re in a crisis and we’ve got to produce calves as quickly as possible and as many as we possibly can,” Roth says. “And that urgency overrides concerns about genetic diversity at this point in time.”
Roth says, to date, artificial insemination has not been successful with Sumatran rhinos, whose population has decreased about 50 percent in the past decade.