Cleveland Metroparks Zoo expanding its rhinoceros habitat

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CLEVELAND (WJW)-- One of the most popular animals at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will soon have more space roam.

The Daniel Maltz Rhino Reserve is scheduled to open late spring and will more than double the space for eastern black rhinoceros herd.

On Monday, the zoo's executive director gave FOX 8 a tour of the progress since construction began.

"Eastern black rhinos are critically endangered," Dr. Chris Kuhar said. "They're suffering from habitat loss as well as poaching for their rhino horn."

According to zoo officials, less than 750 of these particular rhinos are left in the wild. In 2018, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo announced the birth of two rhino calves.

Zoo officials said the Zoo Society Board of Directors has committed to fully fund the $2.5 million rhino reserve. It will also provide a larger, more authentic grassy habitat for the three generations of black rhinos.

"Previously, we had one habitat it was hard to get grass to grow in the habitat," said architect Christopher Widdowson. "It's hard to green the habitat so now with multiple habitats with multiple yards we'll have the opportunity to move the rhinoceros, from yard to yard."

According to Dr. Kuhar, the additional space will not only enhance the rhino's space, it will also increase access for the viewing public.

"So this second yard will provide additional space so we can have two groups of rhinos on exhibit at one time," Kuhar said. "We'll also be building a second rhino barn, which will allow the male to be out of that space."

The new reserve will include overhead shade, misting areas, rubbing posts and an area for rhinos to wallow in the mud.

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