Monarto Zoo's Wild Africa precinct has its first resident: Ibutho the southern white rhino, who was moved in early this month
The proponents of the Australian Rhino Project hope up to 29 more of his species will eventually join him in a space that will not only help save the species, but also accommodate what will be the largest safari experience outside Africa.
Visitors will eventually be able to take in bird of prey flight demonstrations, sunset drives and glamping on the zoo's grounds.
Zoos SA is taking things one step at a time, though, and that first step involved using a crane to transport the 2.2-tonne rhinocerous.
Keepers said 20-year-old Ibutho happily settled into his new surroundings, spraying, investigating and finding the best spots to nap.
Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said she was thrilled at the milestone.
"We are very proud to work with the Australian Rhino Project and other partners (who) will hopefully see a large number of Southern White Rhinos relocated to Australia in the next few years," she said.
"This will create a viable rhino insurance population outside of Africa should the species become extinct.
"Every day we are working to complete this ambitious project, but as the process of relocating rhinos is complex it will take time.
"We are excited to get working on the next stage of the complicated project."
That stage will include the construction of a rhino management and quarantine centre at Monarto, funded in part by almost $170,000 raised at a gala at Adelaide Oval on Friday.
Ms Bensted expressed her thanks to all who attended or participated in an online auction.
Rhinos were once widespread across Asia, Africa and Europe, but are frequently hunted for their horns, which are incorrectly believed by some to have medicinal properties and worth more than gold or cocaine on the black market.
"With the poaching rate now exceeding the birth rate in Africa, rhinos are facing serious trouble in the wild and if we don't act fast experts predict the species may be extinct in less than 10 years," Ms Bensted said.
"We are doing all we can to ensure this does not happen."
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