The Hemker Park and Zoo has added a rhino to its herd, marking the first zoo in the state to have a rhinoceros.
Tio, a greater one-horned rhinoceros (also known as an Indian rhino), joins the more than 200 other animals at the zoo, located in Freeport, Stearns County. He'll live in the zoo's recently completed indoor rhino facility, which includes a 2-acre outdoor yard.
The 2-year-old rhino is described as being "very curious," "full of energy," and loving the attention he's getting, the zoo says, noting these rhinos are typically solitary, except for females with young.
Tio already weighs more than 2,000 pounds, and when he's fully grown he'll weigh around 5,000 pounds. His thick skin, which is ashy-gray, resembles armor due to the folds and tubercles, the zoo says.
Greater one-horned rhinos are one of the five living rhino species in the world and are listed as a vulnerable species by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This species of rhino, which is one of the largest of all the rhino species, can be found in northern India and southern Nepal, but they were hunted for sport or killed for being pests, causing their populations to plummet, WWF says.
Hemker Park and Zoo, which is dedicated to rhino conservation, is working to prevent the rhinos' extinction. Adding Tio to the zoo is part of its mission to highlight and enhance animal species and encourage conservation through integrated partnerships and practical approaches to wildlife management, a news release says.
The zoo, at 26715 County Road 39 in Freeport, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week from May 1 through Oct. 31, but sometimes later depending on the weather.
Hemker Park and Zoo, which opened in 1977, is a Zoological Association of America-credited zoo.