When Harapan, the Cincinnati Zoo’s male Sumatran rhino, lost his mate Suci to iron storage disease back in 2014, it seemed as though the seven-year-old furry fellow was destined to spend the remainder of his 35-40 year lifespan alone. With only around 100 of his kind left in the world, and no others outside Southeast Asia—just last week the species was declared extinct in their native Malaysia—Harapan was a lone bachelor that even Ashley Madison couldn’t help.
But things are looking up. Zoo officials have decided to terminate their Sumatran breeding program and transfer Harapan to Indonesia, where he will have the chance to meet—and breed—with others of his kind, hopefully perpetuating a species severally at risk.
“Though the numbers are frighteningly low, Sumatran rhinos still exist in the forests of Sumatra, we believe there is still time to save them and we are by no means giving up that fight now,” Dr. Terri Roth, Cincinnati Zoo Center for Conservation and Research of Endgangered Wildlife director told WCPO TV. “Ultimately, the responsibility for saving this magnificent species now lies squarely on the shoulders of our Indonesian colleagues. Our hope is that they succeed beyond all of our wildest dreams.”
The smallest of their kind and often called furry rhinos (unlike other subspecies of rhino, the Sumatran is covered in thick dark hair), and are more closely related to the extinct wooly rhinos than any others still alive today. Subsisting on a diet of fruit and bark, they’re also the only Asian rhinos with two horns.