A Denver Zoo rhino bit the finger of a guest during a meet and greet. Mshindi the black rhinoceros bit the woman’s finger while she tried to give him some food. The encounter program was suspended pending investigation.
The Denver Zoo’s rhino encounter program allows guests to interact with the rhino for a fee of $60. As reported by The Denver Channel, guests are allowed to pet and feed the rhino during the encounter.
Mshindi is a gentle rhino. He has interacted with zoo staff and guests for over 20 years without incident.
Denver Zoo Vice President for Animal Care, Brian Aucone, explains:
“Mshindi is a gentle animal. We believe this was an accident and that he was not trying to hurt anyone.”
Mshindi was taken off display while her handlers assess the situation. The encounter program and its protocols will be reviewed before it is reinstated.
As part of accreditation requirements, the incident will be outlined and reported to the Association of Aquariums.
Mshindi was born in November 1993. The Denver Zoo rhino is part of a preservation program for black rhinos. The species is critically endangered.
As reported by National Geographic, black rhinos are often hunted for their horns. In some Asian cultures, the horns are thought to possess spiritual and medicinal properties.
In North Africa and the Middle East, the horns are often carved into decorative ornaments.
The hunting has driven the rhinos to near extinction.
Black rhinos are usually solitary animals. However, females often stay with their offspring for several years. Female rhinos usually give birth every three to five years.
The rhinos were once plentiful in sub-Saharan Africa. However, their numbers have continued to decrease.
Poachers remain their most fierce predator.
The woman who was bitten by the Denver Zoo rhino was taken by ambulance for medical care. Her current condition is unknown.
[Image via Wikimedia]