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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : May 2002 : UW Researchers Digging Up 3,200-Pound White Rhino

UW Researchers Digging Up 3,200-Pound White Rhino


Rhino Took Longer Than Expected To Degenerate

MADISON, Wis. -- Researchers will haul an unusual specimen from the earth at the University of Wisconsin campus Wednesday so they can study its bones.

Researchers will dig up a 3,200-pound rare white rhinoceros that was buried on the campus in 1983 after it died of natural causes at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Curators from the university's zoological museum wanted to include the animal bones in their skeletal collections, but the rhino was too big to fit in the museum's bug colonies, where flesh-eating beetles devour animals down to their bones.

"The museum opted to bury it in the ground so it could decompose naturally," said John Dallman, a retired curator of the museum.

But the rhino took longer than expected to degenerate.

Dallman and his crew unearthed the giant beast in 1995 but found ligaments still connected some of its bones. They reburied the whole mass.

This time, staff from the university departments of zoology, geology and wildlife ecology will excavate the skeletal remains whether they're ready or not, Dallman said.

The rhino is the last of several large animals, including a giraffe and elephant, museum researchers plan to excavate. The rhino's head was removed before it was buried to protect the valuable horn.



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