White Rhinoceros

(Ceratotherium simum)




Facts about this animal

The White Rhino is a large rhino and a very impressive animal with a distinct massive hump on the neck. The head-body length is about 350 cm, the height at the shoulder 160-200 cm. It weights about 2500-3500 kg. The head is very long and it has two massive long horns. The upper lips are squared and there's no trace of protruding lip. They have large and pointed ears, fringed by thick hairs. The skin is hairless and pale grey. The only skinfold is at the base of the forelimb. Females are similar to the males but have generally longer and more slender horns. The weight at birth is about 40 kg.

Did you know?
That African rhinos, whether "white" or "black" are grey coloured? The name "white" rhino is derived from the Afrikaans word "wyt", which means "wide" and does obviously not refer to the animal's colour but to its broad lips and square-shaped grazing mouth.


Name (Scientific) Ceratotherium simum
Name (English) White Rhinoceros
Name (French) Rhinocéros blanc
Name (German) Breitmaulnashorn
Name (Spanish) Rinoceronte blanco
Local names Afrikaans: Witrenoster
chiShona: Chipembere
isiNdebele: Umkhombo omhlophe
isiXhosa: Umkhombe
isiZulu: Ubhejane omhlophe
sePedi, seSotho, seTswana: Tshukudu, mogohu
tshiVenda: Tshugulu
xiTsonga: Mhelembe
CITES Status Appendix I (Populations of Ceratotherium s. simum of South Africa and Swaziland: Appendix II)
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Kathrin Marthaler, Switzerland



Range Eastern and southern Africa
Habitat Dry open woodlands with good grasslands
Wild population Ceratotherium s. simum: Approx. 17'480 (2007). Ceratotherium s. cottoni: a very few, if any, are left in the wild.
Zoo population Ceratotherium s. simum: Approx. 730 of which 467 reported to ISIS (2008); Ceratotherium s. cottoni: 8 in 2 institutions.

In the Zoo

White Rhinoceros


How this animal should be transported

Rhinos should be allowed to get used to the transport crate, which may take from 1-6 weeks depending on the individual rhino’s temperament. Transport crates should allow the rhino to stand comfortably, provide drainage for urine, be adequately reinforced, have adequate ventilation holes or spacing, permit access for food and water for longer transports, and allow handlers to adequately monitor the rhino’s condition. Temperature in the crate should range from 12-20 °C. Handlers familiar with the individual rhino should travel with the animal to the receiving institution. They should regularly monitor the condition of the animal during transport.

For air transport, Container Requirement 71 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Road transport (according to the South African Standard SANS 10331): Transport in special rhino crates under tranquillization. Professional assistance from competent nature conservation staff or an experienced capture team is necessary for loading and transportation since special facilities are required.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Kathrin Marthaler, Switzerland

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Southern white rhino is well managed, and wild populations are steadily growing. Zoos keep animals of this subspecies mainly for educational purposes, as ambassadors for the savannah ecosystems in which they live and as flagship species for campaigns. As breeding white rhinos proved to be very difficult in the past, an International Studbook was set up in 1966 under the WAZA umbrella, and zoos try now to establish a largely self-sustained population of Ceratotherium simum simum managed under regional conservation breeding programmes.

The situation is completely different for the Northern white rhino, which is almost extinct in the wild. In this case ex situ conservation breeding may be the last resort to save the species. However there are only 11 animals of these subspecies in human care and breeding success is not satisfactory.