Looking like an animal from our distant past, today’s rhinos have sadly become a symbol of endangered species. In prehistoric times, rhinos roamed the earth for millions of years. Those prehistoric rhinos were a wonderful assortment of giant beasts – from paraceratherium, which vaguely resembled a giraffe and is thought to be the largest mammal to ever inhabit our world, or telecoeras, a one-horned aquatic rhino, and even the well-known woolly rhino.

Today we have five species of living rhinos. All, except the white rhino, are critically endangered. The Sumatran rhino, smallest and hairiest, inhabits areas of Burma, Malaysia, Thailand and Sumatra. The Javan rhino, a one-horned rhino, is thought to be the rarest large mammal in the world. The greater Indian or armor plated rhino, also a one-horned rhino, was once found throughout most of India, but now lives only in reserves in India and Nepal. African rhinos include the white or square-lipped rhino and black rhino. The name for the white rhino does not refer to its color, but comes from the Dutch word for “wide,” describing the broad upper lip. And the black rhino is not really black, but a darker gray.

Generally rhinos inhabit grasslands, shrubby areas or even dense forests in the tropical or subtropical regions. Being active from evening through early morning, rhinos will often rest during the heat of the day. Rhinos love to wallow in muddy pools, using the mud to cool, discourage biting insects and even as sunscreen. These ungulates have rather poor vision, but acute senses of smell and hearing. In captivity rhinos have lived to be 40 years old.

Threats to the world’s rhino populations include habitat destruction and poaching of rhino horn. For thousands of years ancient cultures have believed that rhino horn contained magical medicinal properties, curing all sorts of ailments. Some cultures have even used decorated rhino horn as handles for daggers. Recently numerous countries have made possession of rhino horn illegal – a step toward protection of these mega-vertebrates. In Asia and Africa, areas have been set aside as preserves, helping establish safe habitats. Zoos within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are working through Species Survival Plans to make certain that we always share our world with magnificent rhinos.

Did you know that YOU can help us save rhinos? Just bring your unused cell phones, cell phone accessories, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players, handheld GPS units, laptops, E-readers, and portable hard drives to the zoo and through the EcoCell recycling project all proceeds collected from recycling will be donated directly to the International Rhino Foundation. Thank you for helping us help the endangered rhinos of the world!


Help save a rhino by donating your old cell phone.

Help us turn your cell phones, cell phone batteries and chargers into much needed funds for rhino conservation and at the same time keep toxins found in these phones from ending up in our landfills and poisoning our environment.

Collection boxes are located at the zoo's front entry and Tyler Recycling Center. All proceeds collected from cell phone recycling at Caldwell Zoo will be donated directly to the International Rhino Foundation.