Just over a month ago, several institutions held public events to raise awareness and support for rhino conservation efforts. The events were conducted under the umbrella of Cinco de Rhino, a catchy reference to the number of rhino species and a take-off on Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo holiday that is slowly becoming a tradition for rhino enthusiasts. Perhaps the best thing about Cinco de Rhino is that there are no hard-and-fast rules. Essentially anything goes. For example, chapters of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) at opposite ends of Pennsylvania had very different ideas on how to celebrate the day. The Philadelphia Zoo and Elmwood Park Zoo chapters decided to host a joint walk and bike ride event. Participants chose between a 5K stroll around the Elmwood Park Zoo and a 15-mile bike ride from Norristown to Philadelphia. To add a bit of flavor to the festivities, both walkers and riders donned red “Rhinoses”.
Meanwhile, keepers and volunteers at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium focused their attention on one of the newer additions to the animal collection – a female black rhino calf, Janine, who was born last September – the first black rhino born at the zoo in 45 years! Zoo visitors were treated to a live mariachi band, invited to create their own fiesta ornaments, and chowed down on churros to help support rhino conservation.
On the other side of the country, at the world famous San Diego Safari Park, a number of athletic rhino fans participated in a Half Marathon to support conservation programs both in captivity and the wild. In addition, zoo staff and volunteers followed up with Cinco de Rhino auctions and raffles, part of the kickoff to a four-day International Rhino Keeper Association (IRKA) Workshop. Funds raised at these events will be used to equip Rhino Protection Units that safeguard the future for Indonesia’s Sumatran and Javan rhinos.
Cinco de Rhino activities certainly aren’t limited to zoos and zookeepers. Just ask the elementary school students at the PS 107 John W. Kimball Learning Center in Brooklyn, New York. This May 5th they collected spare change and raised more than $1,000 for IRF as part of their annual Beast Relief campaign for rhino conservation. And, to top that off, Infiniti Medical, a company that develops medical devices to improve veterinary services, donated $1,000 in matching funds. Earlier in the year, the students at PS 107 were visited by IRF’s Bill Konstant, who gave a presentation about rhinos and was treated to a video that the students produced about the young Sumatran rhino, Andatu.
The International Rhino Foundation is deeply grateful to these institutions and organizations, and to all the people whose hard work helps make Cinco de Rhino fundraising events such a success. All five rhino species are threatened to some degree, and these opportunities to contribute to their survival will continue to grow in both popularity and importance.