(CINCINNATI) — The Cincinnati Zoo is planning to mate sibling Sumatran Rhinoceros in an attempt to help save the species from extinction.
There are only an estimated 100 Sumatran Rhinos left in the world – only ten of which are in captivity. Four of those then are close relatives of the Cincinnati Zoo’s bloodline.
“We don’t have a lot of options out there,” explained Dr. Terri Roth with the Cincinnati Zoo.
Dr. Roth and her team plan to breed the Cincinnati Zoo’s lone Sumatran rhino, a 9-year-old named Suci, with her six-year-old brother Harapan. Harapan, who was born in Cincinnati, is currently residing at the Los Angeles Zoo. He will be shipped back in an attempt to get the pair to mate and possibly save the species, though Dr. Roth says that may prove difficult.
“You really can’t house them together and just let nature take its course in a zoom,” she said. “So we have to use the science and find out the exact day the female is going to be receptive to the male and only then do we put them together, and even then it can be a little dicey.”
“It’s going to depend on Harapan because he’s the one who’s the younger of the two and we think he’s close to being sexually mature, but we first have to confirm that,” Dr. Roth continued.
Harapan and Suci are the only Sumatran Rhinos in the United States.
Dr. Roth admitted that breeding brother and sister isn’t something that she and her team like to do, but it’s necessary given how critically endangered the species is.
“It does get to a point, if a species drops to such low levels that the most important priority is to produce as many animals as possible,” she said. “So genetics kind of take a second seat.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Aaron Smith, CNN
Jason Hanna, CNN
Pamela Brown, CNN
Doug Criss, CNN