All it takes is a strike or a spare to help save rhinos from further endangerment.
Bowling for Rhinos is a national fundraiser organized by the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK). More than 60 chapters participate in the bowl-a-thon and raise between $200,000 and $300,000 annually for rhino conservation.
The members of the local AAZK chapter have spent long hours and late nights outside of their jobs at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to plan the local bowling fundraiser at JC’s Lexington Bowl, set for 6:30 p.m. Sunday. This is the fourth local event, and organizers hope to raise $5,000 in the Midlands.
Tickets to the event cost $15 for two games and shoe rental, and are available at the door or at www.rbzkeepers.blogspot.com. In addition, there will be a silent auction featuring kayak lessons, sailing lessons, horseback riding lessons, haircuts, gift baskets, animal paintings and footprints, other artwork, and more.
All money raised will directly support rhino conservation efforts, said Christine Talleda, president of the local AAZK chapter and a bird keeper at Riverbanks Zoo.
Talleda offers several reasons why rhinos need protection:
• Of the five species of rhinos, only one population is not threatened, with about 4,600 individuals in existence. By comparison, there are less than 60 individual Javan rhinos left.
• Rhino populations are in severe decline because of poaching. The rhino horn is valuable for its use in medicines and as a symbolic dagger handle.
• Sanctuaries with fences and guards have been established to protect rhinos from poachers.
• The money raised from Bowling for Rhinos provides fences, planes and vehicles to patrol high-poaching areas, translocation of rhinos into sanctuaries or parks, camera traps, and salaries for anti-poaching security guards.
“In addition to rhinos being in decline, and being an amazing, majestic animal that we do not want to lose, saving and protecting rhino habitat helps to save and protect every other species that lives in that same area,” Talleda said.