A big birthday bash was held for Perth Zoo heavy weight, ‘Memphis’ the Southern White Rhinoceros who recently turned 30.
The adult rhinoceros was given a specially made ice cake filled with some of his favourite foods including apples and pears.
Zoo Keeper, Luke Newing, said: “As much as we enjoy celebrating birthdays, the best birthday present we can give Memphis is to raise awareness about wild rhinoceros and the challenges they face.”
“Memphis is an ambassador for his wild cousins who are facing unprecedented pressure. Every day wild individuals are killed for their horns to be sold on the black market. It is a much sought after commodity for dagger handles, ornaments and potions which are thought to cure many illnesses.”
“The demand for rhino horn has reached such epic levels that a rhinoceros at a French zoo was tragically slaughtered by overnight intruders in March this year in order to de-horn it.”
“But the deaths of rhinos for their horns are senseless. Rhino horn is made from the same material as our fingernails, keratin. It has no medicinal properties, despite what people believe.”
“When you get up-close to Memphis, who tips the scales over two tonne, you realise what majestic creatures rhinos are and the importance of protecting them.”
Memphis is quite a docile male. He has a great temperament and loves a scratch from his keepers.
He’s also been incredibly tolerant of his son, ‘Bakari’, who lives in the adjoining exhibit to him. They actually lived together for 10 years, which is quite unusual for two males and a testament to Memphis’ nature.”
“By visiting our Zoo you’re helping conserve rhinos and if travelling abroad please don’t purchase products made from rhino horn. Although ornaments may look great on your coffee table you are ultimately funding the demand for poachers to go out into the wild and kill a rhino,” said Luke.
Beyond the Zoo gates, Perth Zoo helps wild rhinos by supporting the Asian Rhino Project which helps safeguard the critically endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros. As few as 200 individuals remain on the planet.
- Memphis arrived at Perth Zoo from Memphis Zoo in 1989 as part of a coordinated breeding program to help save the species;
- In 1999 a fundraising campaign, ‘Mate for Memphis’ was launched which helped bring two females from Kruger National Park to Perth Zoo for breeding. The campaign received enormous support from the people of Perth;
- Memphis has fathered two calves, daughter ‘Tamu’ who now resides in New Zealand and son, Bakari who lives adjacent to his father at Perth Zoo;
- Southern White Rhinoceros are near threatened to extinction. Their main predators are humans;
- Memphis is ‘Mr October’ in Perth Zoo’s 2018 Conservation Calendar which raises funds to save animals in the wild. Calendars can be purchased at IGA stores throughout Western Australia
Danielle Henry, Media and Communications Manager, Perth Zoo