Diceros bicornis michaeli
Kenya, South Africa, Namibia
Grassland and forest, generally in thick thorn bush or acacia scrub, but also in more open country within about 25 km of permanent water.
Wild: Branches, bark, leaves & vines; fallen fruit, long grasses, and green clover.
Zoo: Herbivore diet, Alfalfa hay
Approx. 15 months
40 years in captivity, unknown in the wild
Head & body length, 10 to 12 feet. Shoulder height 4.5 to 6 feet. Weight 2,000 to 3,000 lbs. Tail length, about 2.3 feet. Two horns, with the anterior horn larger than the posterior, being about 1.6 feet long. Occasionally the beginning of a third posterior horn is evident. The upper lips is triangular shaped, prehensile, and very mobile. Hair is present on the ears and tail only. Both this rhino and the white rhino are dark in color, but the black rhino is somewhat darker. The coloration is dark yellow-brown to dark brown or dark gray. The female is generally the same as the male, with the horn usually longer and more slender. Black rhinos are massively built, with short legs. The skin is thick. Birds, called "oxpeckers," ride on the rhino's back and eat ticks from the skin. They are also believed to warn the rhino of danger.
Behavior: Although its pugnacity has been exaggerated, the black rhino is unpredictable and can be a dangerous animal, some-times charging a disturbing sound or smell. It has tossed people in the air with the front horn, and regularly charges vehicles and campfires. When it catches the scent of humans it usually crashes off through the brush and runs upwind, sometimes for several kilometers before stopping. The sense of smell is the primary method of detecting danger. It is very vocal in its communication, using growls, grunts, and most commonly a puffing snort. The usual gait is a fast walk or a bouncing trot. When charging it gallops. Territory is marked with dung piles, and also by spraying urine. They wallow frequently, and roll in dust. They feed primarily in the morning and evening, and have become more nocturnal with the advent of European hunters. Males are solitary. Females are usually found together with a calf and sometimes an older daughter. Those without young join a neighboring female. The young of both sexes also attach themselves to other animals. They are usually tolerant of others that they know in adjacent ranges. Most conflicts involve strangers moving through an area occupied by a clan.
Reproduction: Breeding occurs generally throughout the year, with females usually giving birth every 2 to 5 years. The single calf weighs about 88 pounds at birth. Mating is often preceded by the female attacking the male. A premating bond develops between the male and female, and they remain in close proximity to each other, even sleeping in contact.
Meet Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's black rhinos.
Did You Know?
- The black rhino has very poor eyesight. At 100 feet no detail can be discerned; only movement. This is made up for by acute sense of hearing and smell. The black rhino is smaller in size than the white rhino. There is little difference in color between the two. "White" is a corruption of the Afrikaaner word "weit," meaning "wide," and describes the wide mouth of that species. The black rhino is referred to as the "Browse Rhino" or "Prehensile-lipped Rhino."
- Rhino skin is one inch thick at the neck. They can run at up to 35 miles per hour.
- They take mud and dust baths to keep cool and discourage biting insects.
- The Genus name, Diceros, is from the Greek dis, meaning "two," or "double" and keras, "a horn." The specis name, bicornis, is Latin for "two horned."
- For more interesting facts about black rhinos, check out Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's rhino fact sheet.
The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is a non-profit corporation of institutions and individuals worldwide whose sole purpose is dedicated to the conservation of Black, White, Sumatran, Javan and Indian rhinos; the five species of rhinoceros. The mission of the International Rhino Foundation is to contribute to rhino conservation by providing technical, administrative and financial services and support for programs which emphasize intensive management and scientific research.
The Cleveland Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers holds an annual fundraiser in May called Bowling for Rhinos. You can find out more and how to participate in our events listing closer to the event date.
Where in the Zoo?
I can be found in the Rhino Building at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.