Rhinos Mate, Zoos Innovate

Inside one zoo's quest to make two members of an endangered species fall in love — by building a "honeymoon suite."

One-horned Rhino

Nepal's national zoo in Kathmandu is a tranquil anomaly in the otherwise busy and hectic Himalayan capital. But what is hidden beneath its serene appearance are tigers, ferocious leopards—and two rhinos in love.

Fall in love is what the zookeepers hope will happen to the two members of the endangered one-horned South Asian rhino, who recently upgraded their accommodations to the "honeymoon suite"—a fancy term for a larger grazing area. Sarita Jnawali, the zoo manager, says that a lot rests on the two rhinos—in fact, the future of their species. Which is why she decided to clear out some space and let the two co-mingle in what is hoped to be a more mating-friendly environment.

The zoo is on a 30-year lease from the government by Nepal's National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). One of the world's least developed countries and in recovery from a brutal civil war, Nepal has engaged in public-private partnerships for years, and was way ahead of the trend before it became a buzzword. So Jnawali approached the local Ace Development Bank, whose mascot is the rhino, to seek sponsorship for the honeymoon suite. Ace agreed, and after two years in the making, the new suite has finally opened.

So here's to innovation and public-private partnerships and, well, mating. What more does the world need?

 

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