The new kids on the block
Rhinos rumble to the Houston Zoo, settle into private (for now) digs
If you happen to see a trio of ample-bodied foreigners ambling around the Museum District, you might want to give 'em a hearty Texas welcome. From afar, of course.
You see, these three new kids on the block are in town from South Africa, and we have to warn you — they can be a bit aggressive at times.
But if you had horns, you'd probably be inclined to use them, too.
At the tender age of five years old, the Johannesburg gang of Sibindi (the lone male), Lynne, and Annie-Kamaria arrived Thursday evening, after a 54-hour trip on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. They're currently getting settled at a private retreat on Hermann Park Drive.
Did we mention that Houston's newest residents are of the white rhinoceros family, living in the soon-to-open African Forest exhibit at the Houston Zoo?
The odd-toed ungulate crew made the trek in specially-designed, 2,000-pound-steel-reinforced crates. Zoo director Rick Barongi said in a press release, "The rhinos went first class all the way," as accommodations permitted plenty of comfortable standing and sleeping room throughout the journey.
But these Three Musketeers aren't the first rhinos to grace our zoo from the tip of the African continent.
"The first rhinos were very young when they came to the zoo, and they lived out their entire lives here," recalled Brian Hill, director of public affairs at the Houston Zoo. "Bu and Marci arrived in the summer of 1971."
Both rhinos lived full lives, eventually dying of old age. Marci passed away in March 2007 at the age of 38, while Bu passed away in August 2007, at the ripe old age of 39.
"They lived long and happy lives with us, as will the three that just arrived," Hill said.
"It’s great to have rhinos back at the Zoo," Hill told us. We tend to agree.
So when can we see the second largest species of land mammal (after the elephant) for ourselves? The African Forest exhibit doesn't open till Dec. 10, and besides, "They've got to settle in first," Hill told us in an e-mail.
Once they hang their photos over the mantle of their new home, we certainly hope our city's latest animal folk will lay out the welcome mat for the thousands of Houstonians eager to bring them a housewarming casserole.
Until then, welcome to the neighborhood, you big lugs, you.
See the rhinos' arrival to the zoo: