(Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) – Cleveland Metroparks Zoo this week announced plans to significantly expand the rhino habitat in the Zoo’s African Savanna destination. The expansion will include an additional outdoor rhino yard that will more than double the size of the Zoo’s habitat for its Eastern black rhino herd of five.
The expansion will also include an additional indoor rhino barn as well as several new complexities within the habitat for the rhinos including overhead shade and misting areas, a mud wallow, vegetation and rubbing posts. The expansion also includes a new and significantly larger and fully accessible viewing deck for guests.
“Cleveland Metroparks has had tremendous success in breeding critically endangered Eastern black rhinos including the birth of two rhino calves in 2018,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director Dr. Chris Kuhar, PhD. “This expansion will better equip us to care for our rhino herd as we work to protect one of the world’s most critically endangered species.”
The new rhino yard and additional barn will replace the former Monkey Island exhibit that was recently removed. Monkey Island first opened in 1934 but its use had changed overtime as animal care practices have evolved. The Colobus monkeys formerly housed on Monkey Island now reside in a nearby habitat that offers them more space to climb.
“While Monkey Island was a popular exhibit when it first opened, the structure was more than 85 years old and no longer met our internal standards for animal habitats,” said Kuhar.
The rhino yard expansion will be funded jointly by Cleveland Metroparks and the Cleveland Zoological Society, the nonprofit partner of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Zoo Society will provide $1.25 million for construction of the new habitat.
Since 2011, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Zoological Society have invested $35 million in larger and more complex habitats, including African Elephant Crossing, Rosebrough Tiger Passage and, most recently, Asian Highlands.
Construction on the new rhino habitat will begin in fall 2019 and is expected to be completed in spring 2020.