Wild Encounters: Bill The Rhino

Wild Encounters

(WJBF) – We are taking a look at one of Riverbanks Zoos newest residents, Bill the Rhino!

Mariah Wyngowski, Hoof stock Mammal Keeper: “This is Bill. He’s a Southern White Rhinoceros. He’s 16 years old. He’s been here for a few months now and he’s adjusting really well and he’s getting used to the habitat.”

So, how’s Bill interacting with our other two rhinos?

Mariah: “We’ve been doing what’s called ‘visual intros’ with them where they can see each other, but don’t have full body contact and they’ve been very interested in each other. We’ve been seeing a lot of positive interaction with them. They’re very interested in each other…touching noses. They’re looking to check in on each other. You might notice Bill walk down to the back, because that’s where the girls are currently. They do check in throughout the day.”

So, what brings Bill here to Riverbanks Zoo?

Mariah: “Bill is here on a recommendation by the White Rhino Species Survival Plan. That means they look throughout all the rhinos who were looking to move and they saw their genetics were valuable and haven’t been represented that well in zoo populations. So, he’s recommended to breed with both Connie and Winifred. So, once we do some introductions, we’re looking to have an established family group here.”

Are there any interesting things you can tell me about him? What’s he eating like? Any fun facts?

Mariah: “So, White Rhinos…their diet’s mostly going to be hay and grain-based. They also like snacks; and one of the snacks he likes that I have is produce. He likes carrots and produce, but he really likes bananas. So, when we’re doing some training behaviors with him, we use bananas because that’s a big jackpot prize for him. One of the behaviors we’ve trained him to do is draw blood from his ear.”

In the long run, what do we want to see here from Bill at Riverbanks Zoo?

Mariah: “We want to see Bill be a part of an integrated family group with Connie and Winifred and part of that would be them breeding and having offspring here. We’d like to have a successful breeding program to continue the conservation efforts of the Southern White Rhinoceros.”

If you want to see Bill and the rest of the Rhinos, head down to Riverbanks Zoo!


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