Plains Family Welcomes New White Rhino
Meet Zenzele!

Plains Family Welcomes New White Rhino


There’s a new rhino roaming around the Indianapolis Zoo’s Plains yard! Meet the majestic and beautiful Zenzele, also known as “Zen” to her keepers. Nineteen-year-old Zen arrived in Indianapolis in early June from The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio.

While the surroundings were new, it didn’t take long for Zen to become adjusted and familiar with her new keepers. Senior Plains Keeper Amber Berndt says she has been doing very well with the team who works with her and enjoys getting pets and scratches. Amber describes Zen’s personality as laid back, but very outgoing and curious.

Zenzele came to Indianapolis through a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. This cooperative program guides AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to manage threatened and endangered species to ensure the populations of animals within our care are sustainable, healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied.

Did you know white rhinos have two horns, the foremost being more prominent? Rhinos’ horns grow as much as three inches a year and have been known to grow up to five feet long. When Zen first arrived at the Zoo, her horn was measured at an impressive 26 inches long – which is much longer than any of the horns of our other three rhinos!  Before her grand debut, keepers had to file down her horn for the safety of the other rhinos. Their horns are made up of keratin fibers, the same material found in hair and nails – so it will grow back over time. While the size of a rhinos’ horn may be impressive, it also makes them a target for illegal poaching and the ivory trade.

White rhinos are just one of five species of rhino that are on the brink of extinction. Habitat fragmentation along with poaching of their horns are the downfall for each species causing them to be threatened and/or endangered. International Rhino Foundation is an organization doing amazing work to keep all five species of rhino on this planet. Visit to see how you can help make a difference in protecting rhinos.

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