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How do you get two rhinos across the country? The Living Desert shares details of the 10-state trek

The Living Desert

Two new residents of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, rhinos Jaali and Nia, have arrived at their new Palm Desert home.

Calling the cross-country trip "rhinormous," Zoo officials shared video and insight on how Jaali and Nia made their way to Coachella Valley. The Zoo previously told News Channel 3 that Jaali comes from the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan; Nia arrives from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Andrea Goodnight, Head Veterinarian, and Heather Down, Animal Care Curator caravanned with experienced rhino-moving specialists as part of the transport team.

"Throughout the journey, Jaali and Nia were closely monitored via constant video surveillance and regular physical checks, in addition to multiple stops to provide food and water to ensure their health and wellbeing." read the social media post.

“This was a day we have been waiting and planning for, so I could not be more excited that Jaali and Nia are here – safe and sound. We had great weather, no traffic issues, and smooth travels across the country. The move into their new barn was a team effort across the organization, and I am so grateful that everything went according to plan.”

RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care.

Jaali (pronounced Jolly) a 1 ½ year old eastern black rhino. Photo: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

“Jaali and Nia are both settling in well. They are eating, drinking, and acclimating to their new space, while also getting acquainted with their animal care team,” said Jared Moeller, Animal Care Curator of Rhino Savanna. “Over the next few days to weeks, Jaali and Nia will continue to get comfortable with their new home and will then be introduced to their new habitat.”

Nia (pronounced Ny-a) is almost 3 years old. Photo: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens 

CHECK IT OUT: Interactive live webcams showing the animals of the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

It's a part of a large effort called "Crossroads for Conservation." This is a master plan that started in 2015 to help protect endangered species.

The Living Desert’s new Rhino Savanna is set to open November 12. You won't be able to see Jaali and Nia until then. The four-acre habitat will be home to a variety of African wildlife including black rhino, waterbuck, klipspringer, and pelican.

You can watch the construction live here:

Zoo staff hope the pair will form a family unit in the new habitat. “As one of only 25 AZA-accredited facilities to care for eastern black rhinos, we all work together collaboratively to ensure this iconic species doesn’t go extinct." Breitigan said. "These two have been strategically matched, and we have high hopes for their future breeding success here at The Living Desert.”

Last September, The Living Desert gave News Channel 3 viewers an inside look at the progress. Check out that report on the new rhino habitat here.

Meet Jaali: Jaali was born December 24, 2019 to mother, Doppsee, and father, Phineus, and his birth marked the first rhino birth at the Potter Park Zoo in its 100-year history. Jaali means “powerful” in Swahili, and according to his animal care team at Potter Park Zoo, he is very curious and loves attention.  Jaali is coming from the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan.

Meet Nia: Nia, meaning “purpose” in Swahili, was born August 20, 2018 to mother, Inge, and father, Forrest. Her animal care team has shared that Nia is very intelligent and eager to learn and participate in her husbandry training. Nia will be arriving from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, Ohio.

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KESQ News Team


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