VERSTEEGE, K. (2012)

EAZA Husbandry Guidelines for the White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum).

Safaripark Beekse Bergen, Hilvarenbeek.

76 Seiten, 22 Abbildungen, Tabellen.


One of the main goals of modern zoos worldwide is conservation (WAZA, 2010). According to the IUCN red list 37% of all evaluated species are threatened (17.291 threatened species) (IUCN, 2010a). To keep the white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) from extinction and to maintain a healthy, sustainable captive population, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) started an European Endangered Species Program (EEP) (Versteege, 2010a; EAZA, 2009a). The numbers of white rhinos are increasing and therefore the white rhino is stated as near threatened since 2002 by the IUCN (IUCN, 2010b). Nowadays 527 white rhinos in captivity are registered on ISIS worldwide, with 247 of them in European zoos. (ISIS, 2010) The first registration of a white rhino kept in an European zoo was in 1950 (Versteege, 2010a).

One of the tasks of an EEP is to develop husbandry guidelines to stimulate best husbandry and facilitate experience and knowledge throughout the EEP institutions. In these guidelines information is given on the best practice. The best practice serves multiple goals, i.e. higher welfare resulting in better reproduction successes and exchange of animals between EAZA institutions being more practical. Both goals enhance conservation efforts. This way it is hoped that the breeding program can meet its goals to get a sustainable ex situ population. Proper animal husbandry is needed for good population management and helps conservation of the white rhinoceros. (EAZA, 2009b)

Through a thesis assignment performed by Martijn van der Sijde and Wiebe Boomsma, students at the University of Applied Sciences ‘Van Hall Larenstein’, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, from April 2010 till October 2010, a draft husbandry manual has been published using the experience and knowledge of several keepers, curators and veterinarians working in different EEP institutions.
All experts who were contacted (listed in table 1) received an extensive questionnaire which they were asked to fill in and which has formed the backbone of Section 2 of the draft husbandry guidelines.

All information for Section 1 of the husbandry guidelines (the biology and field data) was collected through a literature study.
For the white rhino husbandry in zoos (Section 2), the filled in questionnaires of the twelve experts in table 1 were integrated together with information from the AZA Rhinoceros Husbandry Resource Manual (Fouraker and Wagener, 1996) and the EAZA draft EEP African Rhinoceroses Husbandry Guidelines for Rhinoceroses (Göltenboth et al., 2001). The process of the design is shown in a survey research model in figure 1.

The literature consists of scientific articles and books. Recent research has been preferred over older research, although older articles were used when no recent articles were available.

All answers from the twelve colleagues were incorporated to show all possible options for the management of the white rhinos. In the editing process (TAG decision), possible differences of opinion were weighed against each other, which resulted in the final husbandry guidelines for the white rhinos. The guidelines will nevertheless always remain a “living document”. There is no perfect way to take care of the white rhinos, there will always be room for discussion and adaptation.

The last phase of the production of the husbandry guidelines consisted of a review by several rhino keepers. They looked at the guidelines in a practical way to make sure that the information was reliable and could be put into practise. Their comments and advices have been implemented in the guidelines.



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