By Bill Zlatos
With the number of elephants and rhinos dwindling in the wild, about 200 zoo experts from around the world are gathering here to discuss poaching, conflicts with humans and illnesses to reduce threats to the animals.
“We all want to make sure the elephants and rhinos are still around,” said Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
The conference, which began Tuesday and ends Saturday, brings together researchers, scientists and keepers who may not know what is happening to the animals outside their facilities.
“There is good news and bad news,” said Terri Roth, vice president for Asian programs for the International Rhino Foundation. “The good news is the number of rhinos has been increasing, but a lot of these are African white rhinos.”
In contrast, she said, the number of Sumatran rhinos has declined from about 400 in 1996 to about 100. The Javan rhino's decline has not been as pronounced, but still fewer are left, only about 45.
Roth blamed the decline in Indonesia on poaching, loss of habitat and construction of roads.
The Pittsburgh Zoo has three black rhinos and seven African elephants in Highland Park and five elephants at its International Conservation Center in Somerset County. More....