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White Rhino "Acting Wild" is Shot and Killed by staff at Wild Florida Drive-Through Safari Park

A report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has revealed that employees at Wild Florida Drive Thru Safari Park shot and killed a young male white rhinoceros less than 24 hours after he had only just arrived at the Central Florida attraction last September.

Details of the rhino being shot or killed were not publicly known previously, and it's only now that details of the incident have surfaced.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were called to Wild Florida in Kenansville, about a 45 minute drive from the Orlando area attraction, about a week later following an anonymous tip that stated the shooting of the rhino was unnecessary.

The report said no action was taken against the park.

Wild Florida White Rhino Shot and Killed

The male 2,000-pound rhino, arrived at Wild Florida, which offers airboat tours, a gator park with more than 200 animals and a drive-thru safari, on September 18, 2022.

According to the FFWCC report, upon the rhino's arrival at Wild Florida, park workers told investigators that the animal was acting "very wild" and tearing at its enclosure.

The report said that the animal eventually calmed down and was left overnight, and the park was closed the next day as a precaution,to let the rhino adjust.

The following morning, workers were on site when the rhino broke through the main enclosure. Workers decided to build up the reinforcements on the animal's smaller quarantine enclosure, the report said.

Video reviewed by investigators showed the rhino running back and forth and testing the cable fencing, he would leave the enclosure and then enter a stand of cypress in the main enclosure. The rhino kept pushing at the cable fencing and getting stuck in the surrounding wires.

When workers saw the rhino break through the main enclosure and run toward cypress trees, park owner Jordan Munn gave the order to shoot, the report said. The rhino was hit several times but managed to escape the trees.

Workers followed the dying rhino for ⅓ mile and kept shooting the animal until it fell and died, the report said. Based on shell casings, investigators found 15 rounds were fired.

The FWC report said staff then quickly moved the rhino to a burial area and began to bury it quickly because staff feared it would be seen by a helicopter. They left part of the rhino's skull visible from the ground for the FWC investigator.

The video footage of the rhino's escape was captured on the safari park's security cameras and corroborated what employees said had happened, the FWC investigator noted in their report.

Wild Florida White Rhino Shot and Killed

White rhinos are known to be gregarious and calm, Dr. Joseph Okori, WWF Rhino Programme Manager and a wildlife vet said. "White rhinos respond to threats by just running away," he said in an interview on the foundation's website. "They run away, but the problem with them is that they run to a safe distance and stop, they don't run away forever."

White Rhino are classified as Near Threatened and around 18,000 animals exist in protected areas and private game reserves.

They are the only of the five rhino species that are not endangered.

Here is WILD Florida's complete statement issued regarding the incident.

For more than twelve years, Wild Florida’s mission has been to provide an unforgettable Everglades experience that promotes a connection with animals while inspiring education and conservation. Unfortunately, we are sometimes faced with unforeseen situations and circumstances that require an immediate response to ensure the continued safety of visitors, staff, neighbors, and, most importantly, animals in our care.

In September 2022, a new rhino began to pose an imminent danger to the park at large, and after consultation with leadership and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) guidelines, we made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the animal.

As an organization, Wild Florida will continue providing the best care for our animal family and promote the importance of conservation through our educational programs.

Wild Florida White Rhino Shot and Killed


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