Like many humans, Emma has had her travel plans derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but after months of delay, the white rhino has arrived in Japan and is looking for love.
The five-year-old comes by way of Hsinchu County’s Leofoo Safari Park, where she beat a herd of competitors for the chance to find a companion and breed.
She had been scheduled for transfer to the Tobu Zoo in Tokyo’s Saitama Prefecture in March.
Photo: Philip Fong, AFP
“After some delays due to the coronavirus, Emma, a southern white rhino, arrived at our zoo on the evening of June 8,” the Tobu Zoo said. “We slowly opened the shipping container that had been placed in front of her sleeping room. Emma, without showing any signs of shyness, went straight into the sleeping room.”
The rhino used the extra time in Taiwan to prepare for the move, with keepers using Japanese for words like “come” and “no” to get her ready for her new home.
Safari staff said that she was picked from a herd of 23 rhinos because of her even temper and slender physique.
“Emma was chosen because of her mild personality ... and her smaller size also makes it easier to ship overseas,” park chief veterinarian and animal manager Sean Wu said earlier this year. “She seldom gets into fights with other rhinos or snatches others’ food.”
She is expected to be on show to the public in Japan for several weeks, but she also has the more serious business of getting acquainted with her first suitor: 10-year-old Moran.
Zoo breeding programs have played a key role in repopulating southern white rhino herds.
The species numbers about 19,000 rhinos found in the wild across southern Africa, the conservation group Save the Rhino said.
Their northern cousins were not so lucky. Only two remain, both female, rendering the species functionally extinct.
Leofoo Safari Park imported eight rhinos from Africa in 1979 and has the most successful breeding program in Asia, with 23 animals in its herd.
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