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Gould, N., 1997. Editorial. International Zoo News 44 (1): 2-3

Location: World
Subject: Management - Programs
Species: Sumatran Rhino

Original text on this topic:
In1985, in a mood of cautious optimism, two projects were launched each of which aimed at establishing a captive breeding population of the Sumatran rhinoceros. The Indonesian government was a partner in both schemes, linked in one case with the Howletts and Port Lympne Foundation and in the other with a group of U.S. zoos (New York, Cincinnati, San Diego and Los Angeles). Captures from the wild started the same year. Malaysia, which operated its own separate scheme, had already caught three animals, one of which survived for only a month. In all, between 1984 and 1992 (when efforts to capture more rhinos seem to have been effectively abandoned), at least 34 animals were taken into captivity and only one was born, at Melaka (Malacca) Zoo, Malaysia, in May 1987. As far as I know, there have been no more captive births since then. There have, though, been many deaths - according to the most recent figures I have seen, the captive population now numbers only 21.
There are, of course, several causes which have contributed to this lack of success. The least excusable has been the reluctance of some holders to pool their stock in order to form the maximum possible number of breeding pairs. But another factor has been sheer bad luck - the abnormally high death rate does not in general seem to be attributable to any lack of care. In particular. it is not known how many of the rhinos were already old animals at the time of their capture. Port Lympne's experience seems relevant: both the females brought there, Subur and Meranti, subsequently died and in each case there were grounds for suspecting that old age was the underlying cause of death.

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