Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Ohio Zoo Attempts To Mate Female Rhino With Her Brother For Species Survival 272

An anonymous reader writes "Unfortunately for the Sumatran rhino the fate of the species may boil down to a plan by the Cincinnati Zoo to breed their lone female with her little brother. 'We absolutely need more calves for the population as a whole; we have to produce as many as we can as quickly as we can,' said Terri Roth, who heads the zoo's Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife. 'The population is in sharp decline and there's a lot of urgency around getting her pregnant.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ohio Zoo Attempts To Mate Female Rhino With Her Brother For Species Survival

Comments Filter:
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @02:03AM (#44347651)

    It's come to this!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @02:08AM (#44347661)

    I hate humans...

  • Kinky. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @02:08AM (#44347663)

    If it was good enough for the pharaohs, it's good enough for the rhinos.

  • but was ignominiously rejected.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @02:13AM (#44347685)
    Roth, who began working on the rhino project in 1996, said it took years just to understand their eating habits and needs and decades more to understand their mating patterns. The animals tend not to be interested in companionship, let alone romance.

    Oh. I think I see the connection to Slashdot now.
  • Eliphinos (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @03:14AM (#44347945)

    Can be the backup plan if incest doesn't work. The only disadvantage would be that a viable eliphino would make the joke less funny.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kwyj1b0 ( 2757125 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @03:24AM (#44347993)

    I ask as a person who cares about the environment. I strongly feel humans should have a smaller footprint and stop damaging the environment.

    However, we seem to be spending a small fortune on the last few members of a species. Whatever ecological roles the rhinos might have played would have been filled (or the entire ecosystem would have changed faster than usual, possibly not-in-a-good-way).

    Shouldn't we be spending that money for conservation where the damage isn't this extensive? In a while, maybe by cloning or using frozen sperms/eggs, we might be able to revive the species.

    • As for 'why', that is simple, we don't like endings. We want the story to continue. You might as well ask why people pay for expensive veterinary treaments when they could simply have their pets euthanized. People go to the zoo and they don't just remark on what an economical conversion the rhinos are of hay into edible meat, they marvel and awe and say what a beautiful creature it is.

      I am often the one on the practical side of things, and I think the occasional rainforest has to go so humans can prosper

    • Alas, all this is done to cure our own concience, since humans played a major role in bringing the rhinos close to extinction in the first place...

    • by Chryana ( 708485 )

      What makes you think it will be cheaper to revive the species once it is extinct? The rhinos are already being taken care of since they are in a zoo, it's probably not very expensive to try to mate them together at the same time as feeding them and providing for their needs. If it was so easy to restore lost species by cloning or restoring frozen eggs, maybe we would have done it already. But I doubt it has ever been done.

    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      > In a while, maybe by cloning or using frozen sperms/eggs, we might be able to revive the species.

      I take it you have never seen jurassic park
    • Rhinos built new forests in current grasslands. Not something you would necessarily see any evidence of damage for a decade. But if all trees are gone from the African Grasslands in a hundred years, you will know who to blame. They are the counterpoint to the elephant in many ways, and play a role in the necessary and natural flow of trees and grass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @03:37AM (#44348049)

    Forgive me, but I'd like to ask a reasonable, well thought-out question. From looking at the other threads, I feel it may be out of place here. Anyway...

    Do rhinos breed with siblings in the wild? I know some mammals do, and some don't.

    If rhinos do, then I don't see any problem with doing the same in captivity. They would be evolved to better handle the results of inbreeding.

    If they don't, then it seems not only unlikely to work (unless done artificially), but also unlikely to be a viable way to propagate the species.

  • Obviously they are going to need help from the outside, I suggest going to nearby West Virginia where there are plenty of people well versed in how to impregnate relatives.
  • Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Cat ( 19816 ) * on Monday July 22, 2013 @04:55AM (#44348279)

    How people who are so thrilled with the idea of Darwinian survival are so concerned about extinction.

    The two are inextricably linked.

  • Before human cluttered up the island(s), a low(ish) interest in breeding may have been a positive survival trait preventing overpopulation of a limited range.

    Anyone know if the small tigers there successfully hunt other than immature rhinos?

    Now that humans have seriously reduced the range even further, it's probably best to just let them go extinct, since they'll never be successfuly re-introduced to the wild.

  • by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @06:34AM (#44348615)

    Several species have "successfully been conserved in captivity" up to the point that no zoo wants any more of them. They are effectively killing animals and doing global birth control on these species in captivity, while the natural population is so small that they lack even genetic diversity to be viable enough to reliably survive extinction. Given these fact, you'd say they would reintroduce captive bread animals in the wild. This never happens and never will, unless they are going to change a lot of things. First of all, captive release is extremely costly, nobody wants to foot the bill for a reintroduction program of Black's Rhino. Second of all, captive animals may have diseases that could in theory threaten wild animals, even animals of different species. For that reason, nobody will permit these animals to be released in the wild, or have them interbreed with wild animals.

    Zoos are nothing but the living equivalent of a postage stamp collection. All these breeding programs are nice for fellow stamp collectors, but will never ever help wild populations with genetic diversity or just plain extra animals. That doesn't mean they don't have a purpose. If we and our kids can't actually go to a zoo and watch these poor caged animals, we wouldn't give enough about them to actually fund some (often rather futile) attempts of saving the habitat of the wild version of what we just fed a bag of peanuts.

    Unless the above changes and animals are actually released in the wild on a regular basis, incestuous cross breeding Sumatran rhinos in a Zoo won't help the extinction of these animals a single bit. I suggest we find a solution for this first, before we risk Down Syndrome Rhinos in our Zoos.

    • There have been many successful reintroductions, but the general criteria for them is that the habitat has to exist. In the case of black rhinos, the habitat is still being abused by poaching/etc, so reintroducing the animals won't help the population. The successful reintroductions tend to be with smaller species that never got the attention of poachers/collectors, but that were harmed incidentally through our actions.
  • But then again, am I a rhino ?
  • We can save the rhino population just in time to watch them all die from the same congenital defect!
    • Your comment is sarcastic, I know. And yet... I have serious doubts as to whether we can save the rhino, or the Sumatran tiger. Seriously: shouldn't we just let them die out, and let it be over with their misery ?
  • Where do you think all those hillbillies in Cincinnati come from? West Virginia and Kentucky are just breeding pools for future 'Buckeyes'.
  • The theory is supposed to be that the captive animals prevent total exinction should the wild populations die out, which the Sumatran rhinos haven't yet. It would be better to harvest sperm from a wild rhino in Sumatra or Borneo so as to get some genetic variation back into that zoo family.
  • by RoccamOccam ( 953524 ) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:52AM (#44350033)
    I'm betting that the offspring will look like Jim Carrey.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp