Adventure Africa Phase III: Rhino Exhibit

Rhinos Return

The final stage, Phase III, of Adventure Africa will soon be underway to ultimately welcome the return of rhinos back to the Milwaukee County Zoo. The overall intention of the new habitat is to offer “a snapshot of rhinos in a park-like setting,” inspiring awe and empathy with this African species that thrives in savannas and shrublands. It will feature a new indoor and outdoor home for rhinos and a new indoor recreation room for hippos.

  • Project Overview

    The new habitat prioritizes animal care and wellbeing, aligning with research-supported best practices for habitat design that affords the best offerings in overall animal care. It will give the animal care team the ability to deliver excellent care. All areas extend the possibility of conducting behavioral, nutritional, and reproductive assessments.

    Guests will now have the ability to view rhinos and hippos in a more naturalistic indoor habitat. The design connects the former Rhino and Elephant habitats to create a new indoor and outdoor space for rhinos, a dedicated indoor area for hippos, and a redesigned covered pathway (formerly known as the Pachyderm Mall) between the East and West exhibits.

    The pathway will be separated into two indoor spaces, allowing for a North and South habitat, each with its own entry and viewing area. The North habitat will include a shallow pool so it can be used by rhinos or hippos, while the South habitat will be designed to feature rhinos, red river hogs, or other species yet to be determined. The new indoor spaces for rhinos will enhance the guest experience by providing a more engaging view of the animals — up close and unobstructed.

    For the current outdoor West habitat, the existing wall will be removed to become one larger space for the rhinos, tailored to better suit their needs. One of the existing pools will be filled-in to create a zookeeper chat/interaction area — designed for outreach and educational presentations. Plans for a public rhino interaction are being finalized.

    The outdoor East habitat (formerly housing elephants) will be tailored for new, rhino-appropriate containment, and expanded slightly into the existing moat — again focusing on animal welfare.

    The project is slated to be complete in fall 2025.


  • Rhinos

    The Zoo hopes to acquire Eastern black rhinos to the habitat once it is built. This species overall is classified as Critically Endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Currently there are ~55 Eastern black rhinos in North America living in human care across 27 zoos. Rhinos in their natural habitat are threatened by multiple factors, including poachers, who kill them for their horns, and habitat reduction.

    The Species Survival Plan (SSP®) (the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ program to manage species in human care, to ensure genetic diversity) has been informed of the project. The SSP® will review the AZA-accredited zoos housing rhinos in order to look at the rhino population (in human care) as a whole. Based on the project opening date, the SSP® will factor that into its rhino population planning.

    The new habitat will have the potential to house multiple rhinos, but they most likely won’t all arrive at the same time. Behind the scenes, this new space is specifically designed for breeding, featuring six distinct stalls. The flexibility and use of space is critical for rhinos, who are solitary in the wild.

Be aware of a recent "anniversary" ticket scam. tHE ZOO IS not affiliated with this.