110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted May 19, 2014 - 10:53:36am
The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Sanford have two greater one-horned Indian rhinoceroses. These rhinos are the second largest land mammals in the world, and only elephants are larger.
The male rhino in the photo accompanying this column is 1-and-a-half years old, and weighs about 2,000 pounds. When he and his male roommate are full-grown at the age of 5, each will weigh about 6,600 pounds! They will grow to be 6 feet tall.
The rhino has a broad chest, stocky legs, and heavy hoofed feet with three huge toes. The short tail has bristly hair at the tip. The rhino’s skin color varies from yellow-brown to gray or black.
These mammals’ only predators are humans. Poachers inhumanely kill endangered rhinos simply for their horns, which some people believe have amazing medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities when ground up — which, of course, is not true.
Five species of rhinos exist. Some have two horns on the front of their boxy-shaped head, but, as their name declares, greater one-horned Indian rhinos have only one. These rhinos live in the swampy grasslands of India and other parts of Asia. What appears to be armor on their bodies is really very thick skin that helps regulate their body temperature. They love to roll in mud to keep their skin cool and keep away insects.
The horn on a rhino’s face is fairly small and made of keratin like a person’s fingernails and hair. In fact, if something happens to the horn, it will grow back. The animal’s eyesight is poor, so rhinos are easily startled. However, their keen senses of smell and hearing compensate for their poor eyesight. Seemingly unprovoked charges happen when they hear strange noises or smell something odd.
Greater one-horned Indian rhinos eat only plant matter, and are active mainly in the morning and evening. In their native home, they rest during the heat of the day.
Surprisingly, these rhinos can run up to 24 mph and are quite agile. They live 35 to 45 years in the wild. They are on the endangered-species list, and deserve to be treated well! Hunters and poachers who kill rhinos should be punished, as they are the only predators of this amazing animal.
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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