A wildlife park in the United Kingdom plans to build an enclosure to hold highly endangered black rhinos. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) told the BBC that if their bid to get black rhino goes through they will be the “7th zoo in the UK to hold the species.” This comes in the wake of intense reaction against three USA zoos that plan to import live elephants from Swaziland. There are few black rhinos left in the wilds of Africa as a result of rampant poaching to feed the Asian demand for rhino horn. There are less than five thousand animals left alive, so the wildlife park hopes to become part of a successful program that will breed rhinos to ensure their long-term survival.

Zoos might not be good for rhino breeding

Conservationists recognize that a viable breeding scheme may the only long-term way to preserve the species. Activists against captive animals at any cost, sometimes cite a study done by Kathy Carlstead, et al, where they found that black rhinos in zoos or captive paddocks can be stressed. They show the stress through behavioral issues. It was found that female black rhinos react to the size of an enclosure with behavior that “suggests agitation”. These symptoms include chasing and mouthing. It was also found in the study that there are high rates of mortality and low birth rates for rhinos kept in captivity. This may be related to fear caused by public access, noise levels, and climate.

The World Wildlife Fund reported in 2015 that a large number of rhinos were relocated to undisclosed areas of South Africa.

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The poaching, however, is a threat to the animals wherever they may found on the continent of Africa. Whilst it has not been disclosed which country will supply the Yorkshire Safari Park with black rhino, it may very well be South Africa.  

The Guardian reported in May last year that there had been a proposal to export at least 6% of South Africa’s white rhino to Texas where they would be able to roam free in an area safe from poachers. It's understandable that the black rhino might need to be sent away as they are far closer to extinction that the white rhinos.

Nobody wants to send magnificent wild animals from Africa to other countries, but the sheer numbers of animals that are being slaughtered for their horns may very well force the hand of African conservationists.

Organizations saving rhinos are supported by zoos

Save the Rhino International have experience with the effort to save all the rhino species. They have been at the forefront of working with the public via cooperation of zoos in the UK, the USA, and other countries, to help fund the field work that may be the only chance to save the animals in the wild. Whilst anti-captivity activists may hate the idea of zoos, Save the Rhino International has been supported by trusts, companies, individuals, and zoos across the world.