Taiwan prepares white rhino ‘Emma’ to find mate in Japan

HSINCHU, TAIWAN (AFP) – Emma, five years old, slim build with a gentle demeanour, is looking for love overseas. Hobbies include hanging with friends and studying Japanese. Seeks fellow rhino for companionship and mating.

It’s been a busy and exciting time at Taiwan’s Leofoo Safari Park where zookeepers have been preparing to send one of their southern white rhinos over to Japan.

Part of an attempt to widen the gene pool of Asia’s captive-bred white rhinos, it is the first time Taiwan will send a rhino overseas to breed. The safari park scoured their 23 strong herd to find a suitable candidate and settled on “Emma” who ticked all the right boxes.

“Emma was chosen because of her mild personality… and her smaller size also makes it easier to ship overseas,” the park’s Chief Veterinarian and Animal Manager Sean Wu told AFP. “She seldom get into fights with other rhinos or snatch other’s food.”

Visa and paperwork depending, Emma will soon travel to Japan’s Tobu Zoo in Saitama where a 10-year-old fellow rhino ‘Moran’ has been lined up to be her first suitor.

To help her adapt to her future new home, zookeepers have started using Japanese instructions for commands such as “come” and “no”. “We have added Japanese commands in our daily animal training so that slowly when she (Emma) arrives in Japan she can more quickly adjust to the new language,” Wu added.

Emma, a southern white five-year-old female rhino, stands in front of other rhinos before her travel from Taiwan Hsinchu’s Leofoo Village Zoo to Japan’s Tobu Zoo for breeding, on March 2. PHOTO: AFP