By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The only Sumatran rhinoceros in the United States will be sent to Indonesia so it can have a chance to mate, an Ohio zoo famous for breeding the endangered species said on Tuesday.
Eight-year-old Harapan, one of three Sumatran rhinos born at the Cincinnati Zoo, will move to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary later this year, said Dr. Terri Roth, director of its Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife.
The Cincinnati Zoo has had the only successful captive breeding program in the United States for the small, hairy species believed to number only 100 in the wild and nine in captivity worldwide, according to Roth.
She said the decision to move Harapan was a difficult one, but the zoo could not contribute to efforts to breed the species by hanging onto a lone male.
"For many years we were hopeful we would receive a female," Roth said. "Indonesia has been clear recently that they never plan to send another Sumatran Rhino out of the country again."
Receiving potential mates from Malaysia, the only other country with captive Sumatran rhinos, was not an option, said Roth, since that country only has infertile females.
In 2007, the Cincinnati zoo's firstborn male Sumatran rhino calf, Andalas, was relocated to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary. Last year the only female born at the zoo, Suci, died from disease.
Harapan will remain on exhibit at the zoo as he trains to spend time in a crate for the journey that still awaits an export permit. Roth said it would mostly likely travel by plane, ferry and truck to get to the sanctuary, a trip that took Andalas nearly 60 hours.
(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Mohammad Zargham)