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SOS Rhino : In the News : Bowlers gather April 24 to help endangered rhinos
 

Bowlers gather April 24 to help endangered rhinos

  04/06/04

PORTLAND -- Hundreds of bowlers will hit the lanes Saturday, April 24 to save the world's endangered rhinos. Bowling for Rhinos, an annual fundraiser in its 15th year takes place at Beaverton's Brunswick Sunset Lanes in two afternoon sessions beginning at noon and 3 p.m. The Portland Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers sponsors the event.

Bowling for Rhinos is a national program that has raised more than $1.9 million since its inception. Portland bowlers have raised more than $157,000 of that amount, more than any other city in the country. Money raised goes directly to three specific rhino conservation projects working to protect three of the world's five species of rhinos.

Bowlers raise funds by collecting tax-deductible pledges. The Portland event features door prizes and a raffle for a variety of items. Nationally, the top two fundraisers win a two-week trip to Kenya, and will be the guests of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Lewa was the first rhino program supported by the bowling event. Two additional Indonesian programs now receive funds - Ujung Kulon National Park on the island of Java, a tropical lowland rainforest area home to the reclusive Javan rhino; and Bukit Barasan Selatan National Park, on the island of Sumatra. Bukit Barison is home to the rare Sumatran rhino and other endangered animals, including Asian elephants, tigers, clouded leopards and Malayan sun bears.

Michael Illig, a senior keeper and local coordinator for Bowling for Rhinos, noted that globally, all rhino populations are low.

"There are less than 2,700 black, only 300 Sumatran and less than 60 Javan rhinos left in the wild," said Illig. "While populations of white rhinos (estimated to be 10,400) and Indian rhinos (estimated to be 2,400) are more stable, they too are considered threatened. Saving all species of rhinos is important, but the most critically endangered species drive our efforts."

Oregon Zoo Director Tony Vecchio is pleased that the zoo's keepers and the greater zoo community have done so much to save rhinos.

"The primary mission of the Oregon Zoo is conservation," Vecchio said. "It's gratifying to see that our staff believes so strongly in that mission that they've devoted much of their own time and resources to this important effort."