CINCINNATI (AP) - With the survival of a species on the line, Cincinnati Zoo scientists are hoping to mate their lone female Sumatran rhino with her little brother.
The desperation effort follows a meeting in Singapore among conservationists that concluded there might be as few as 100 of the two-horned, hairy rhinos remaining in their native southeast Asia. Species numbers have dropped sharply as development takes away habitat and poachers hunt them for their prized horns.
The Cincinnati Zoo has been a pioneer in captive breeding of the rhino species. It recently brought the male back to his birthplace from the Los Angeles Zoo and soon will try to have him mate with its lone female. Scientist Terri Roth says inbreeding carries risks, but it's necessary to start producing more rhino babies.
Long before its current effort to breed critically endangered Sumatran rhinos, the Cincinnati Zoo was the final home of the last-known passenger pigeon.
Once flocking by the millions, the pigeons started disappearing rapidly in the late 19th century because of commercial food hunting and loss of forest habitats. The Cincinnati Zoo says it offered $1,000 for a breeding pair without success and then tried to mate its sole female with other species of pigeons in a fruitless bid to keep her line alive.
The pigeon named Martha died on Sept. 1, 1914, at the reported age of 29.
She and her species are memorialized with a statue and in a building at the Cincinnati Zoo.
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