Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why would you bowl for a rhinoceros? AAZK's Bowling For Rhinos

Bowling for Rhinos BFR logo

Bowling for Rhinos (BFR) is an annual event organized through the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) and run locally through ~55 groups of zoo keeper volunteers around North America.  Each AAZK local chapter which participates sets up a bowl-a-thon (or similar event) which usually also involves an auction.  Donated auction items and ticket/donation proceeds (~ a quarter million dollars each year) are split between 3 different rhinoceros refuges: the Kenyan Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (who have white rhinos Ceratotherium simum and black rhinos Diceros bicornis), Indonesian Ujung Kulon National Park (who have Javan rhinos Rhinoceros sondaicus), & the Indonesian Bukit Barisan Selatan & Way Kambas National Parks (who have Sumatran rhinos Dicerorhinus sumatrensis).  The entire enterprise is run by volunteers and all administrative costs are covered through local chapters from other funds, so all proceeds go directly towards funding parks.

Although there are hundreds or thousands of people involved each year, two people are particularly responsible for its success.  Andy Lodge, a rhino keeper, initially started BFR in 1990, and Patty Pearthree has since taken up the baton and driven it forward unceasingly.  Two people's hard work, enthusiasm, & vision have raised more than $3.7 million dollars to protect rhinos (and all other species which live in those habitats also), so never think one or two people can't substantially change the planet
Black rhinoceros by Kyra, age 7
Interested in getting involved?  Everyone can come bowl, not just zoo keepers, and BFR would love your donations of items or services for their auctions or just a straight monetary donation.  How often can you bowl among zoo keepers, plus this is a good cause.  This is not a bad way to spend an evening.  Let me know in a comment where you are located and I will tell you when & where the closest bowl-a-thon will be held.

Want to see photos or videos of white rhinos?
Want to see photos or videos of black rhinos?
Want to see photos or videos of Javan rhinos?
Want to see photos or videos of Sumatran rhinos?

Black Rhinos at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya © Thomas Knight zookeeper
I am incredibly fortunate; I have both worked among zoo rhinos and seen the Lewa (where some BFR funds are sent each year) black rhinos on the left.  Without the BFR funds, I and many people like me would never have seen these wild rhinos, so do come bowling.  It's a great way to have fun and save an endangered species.

Want to learn more about rhinos?  Check out the following links/books:

Handbook of the Mammals of the World volume 1
The Handbook of the Mammals of the World, Volume 2 Hoofed Mammals.  This volume will be released in August, and you can rest assured that it will be the top reference book for hoofed mammals as a whole in our lifetime.  The previous volumes on mammals and birds are absolutely amazing.  Pricey but well worth the cost.
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