BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Thursday morning ribbon-cutting officially welcomed Anala to her new home at BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo. The 2,570 pound Indian rhinoceros from Zoo Miami arrived in June. This 2-year-old female is the second species of rhino living at the Baton Rouge Zoo and is the only Indian rhino in Louisiana.
According to officials with the zoo, the new Indian rhino exhibit was made possible by a $150,000 donation from Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo. The construction was completed in June. The area was formerly the Asian elephant exhibit.
“Our zoo has both Indian rhinos and black rhinos, something that's rather unusual for a zoo to have both, so we're excited today about that, but even more excited that it's the community that supported it to help make this possible,” said Phil Frost, Director of the Baton Rouge Zoo. “The Indian rhino has a very distinct appearance I think everyone will enjoy.”
Keepers say Anala, which means "fiery" in Sanskrit, is doing well.
"We've been really slow in letting her adjust to the yard at her own pace," said Jenny Fortune. "It's taken a lot of tricks, a lot of food bribes to get her to go where we want her to go. She's transferring out to the yard very well, going on exhibit fine, using her pool, eating her hay out there, so these are all good signs she's settling in nicely."
She gets a regular meal of grains and eats as much hay and grass as she wants.
"I don't want to say 'diva,' but she definitely has her little routine down, her schedule, so we try to accommodate her," Fortune said.
Part of the money raised went to the enclosed habitat. It features two stalls capable of holding two adult rhinos.
"Eventually we hope to add a male Indian rhinoceros to the exhibit," said Sam Winslow, Assistant Director and General Curator. "However, it will still be a few more years until she's ready for a mate. In the rhino world, she's still considered pretty young."
Indian rhinoceros, which are native to the grasslands of India and Nepal, can be identified by their grey, armor-like skin and single horn. They are generally solitary mammals that spend their evenings grazing on tall grasses and other vegetation. Despite their poor eye sight, they possess a strong sense of smell and hearing.
They're also heavily poached for their horns.
"This is why we're here. Anybody know what this is?" asked Education Curator Jennifer Shields while holding up a rhino horn.
"The reason that they're killed is people believe that they can make medicines out of rhino horn, to cure everything from laryngitis to cancer. Truth is, it doesn't do any of that. In fact, it's made out of the same thing as your fingernails and your hair," she said.