Endangered black rhinos have 'first date' at Oregon Zoo - KPTV - FOX 12

Endangered black rhinos have 'first date' at Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo's endangered black rhinos Zuri and Ruka (Photo: Oregon Zoo) Oregon Zoo's endangered black rhinos Zuri and Ruka (Photo: Oregon Zoo)
Oregon Zoo's endangered black rhinos Zuri and Ruka (Photo: Oregon Zoo) Oregon Zoo's endangered black rhinos Zuri and Ruka (Photo: Oregon Zoo)
Oregon Zoo's endangered black rhinos Zuri and Ruka (Photo: Oregon Zoo) Oregon Zoo's endangered black rhinos Zuri and Ruka (Photo: Oregon Zoo)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A pair of critically endangered black rhinos had a playful first date at the Oregon Zoo and curators hope it will lead to a long relationship.

Zuri and Ruka had been gradually introduced to each other behind the scenes, but on Thursday they had their first official meet-up and they seemed to hit it off immediately.

They playfully butted heads, bounced off each other and ran around their habitat.

Bob Lee, zoo animal curator, said it was exactly what they were hoping to see.

Zoo keepers said the massive rhinos, each weighing more than 2,500 pounds, will likely be outside together more once the weather gets nicer and the hope is they will continue to hit it off and perhaps even add to the black rhino population.

Zoo workers said black rhinos are among the most endangered mammals in the world, with poaching and illegal trade at their highest ever levels.

In 2011, the western subspecies of black rhino native to West Africa was declared extinct. Zuri and Ruka belong to the eastern subspecies, which is considered critically endangered.

Ruka, whose name is Swahili for “jump” or “bounce,” was born at the Saint Louis Zoo in January 2011. His transfer to Oregon as a companion for Zuri was recommended by the Species Survival Plan for black rhinos, a cooperative program among accredited zoos.

For more on black rhinos, go to oregonzoo.org/help-rhinos.

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