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Meet the rhino crash at the Nashville Zoo

NASHVILLE, Tenn.(WKRN) — Like elephants, rhinos have both African and Asian species.

The Southern White Rhinoceros you can see at the Nashville Zoo comes from Africa. But, they are not white.

“They are gray at birth, just like black rhinos. But there is a misinterpretation of the Dutch word for ‘wide’, because they have wide lips. And the British interpret the word ‘wide’ as ‘white,”” Jason Faessler said, Nashville Zoo Hoofstock Keeper.

The wide lips are very helpful for their diet. Unlike their counterparts, which have a prehensile upper lip that is used to pull branches from trees, the white rhino’s wide lips help maximize their bite in the grass.

Like many other wild animals, their numbers have dwindled.

“The white rhino is the best of the five species. There are about 17,000 left on the planet,” Faessler said. “Unfortunately, a few years ago, their number reached over 20,000. So, poaching is still a big problem in Africa, in particular. And unfortunately, rhino horn has medicinal value, or is an aphrodisiac, and a fever reducer. It’s just keratin.”

Keratin is the same material as human hair and nails. This myth is the cause of the decline in the number and status as an endangered species.

The white rhino is unique in that only females live together socially.

“The females will live together in groups called ‘crashes’. The males will have a territory with a different number of crashes on it. And the females will generally keep the males away until they are ready to breed. And then they will breed. Go and find the males.” So it’s a pretty lonely lifestyle for a male white rhino.”

One thing rhinos love is mud.

“Mud beetles are their favorite thing. They’ll go in there and wallow three or four times a day, depending on how hot or cold it is.” Faessler continues, “In general, whatever color the mud is, that’s what your rhino will be.”

When threatened, rhinos can look evil, but in reality, they are more like big puppies.

“I could literally get all five of them to lie down just by scratching the inside of their hamstrings. Their tails would curl up and their knees would start to bend and they would kick those legs out and eventually, they would lay down and roll over and want you to rub. their belly, like a Labrador,” said Faessler.

You can see a rhino crash at the Nashville Zoo in the African Savannah.

News 2 has partnered with the Nashville Zoo to deliver the weekly segment of Zoopalooza. You can watch it on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and here at

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