White rhino Emma travels to Japan to find love and a mate

Emma, a southern white five-year-old female rhino, stands in front of other rhinos before her travel from Taiwan

A five-year-old white rhinoceros has travelled from Taiwan to Japan – all as part of a quest to find love.

Emma has begun her stay at Japan’s Tobu Zoo, with 10-year-old rhinoceros Moran being her first suitor.

She was picked out of a group of 23 rhinos to be sent to Japan, due to her “mild personality”, with staff saying she “rarely got into fights”. Her stay at the zoo is part of an attempt to increase the number of captive-bred white rhinos in Asia.

The white rhino is classified as Near Threatened, according to organisation the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) with around 18,000 left in the wild, said the group. Emma arrived on Tuesday after travelling around 16 hours from Leofoo Safari Park in Taiwan, where she is originally from.

“After some delays due to the coronavirus, Emma, a southern white rhino, arrived at our zoo on the evening of 8th June,” the Saitama Tobu zoo said in a statement. “We slowly opened the shipping container which was placed in front of her sleeping room. Emma, without showing any signs of shyness, went straight into the sleeping room,” it added.

She was originally supposed to travel in March, but like millions of people around the world, her plans were derailed by the coronavirus. However, she used the delay to prepare for the move, with keepers getting her acquainted with the Japanese words for “come” and “no”. Staff at the Leofoo Safari Park had earlier said Emma’s small size also made her easier to ship overseas.

The white rhino is endangered, with just 19,000 left in the wild

Zoo breeding companies have been instrumental in boosting the number of southern white rhino herds.

Their northern cousins however, have not been as lucky, with only two of them remaining. Both are female, meaning the species will likely be completely extinct soon – until scientists come up with a plan.

Poaching is the primary threat facing all rhino species. Scammers market the horns – which like hair and fingernails are made of keratin – as an aphrodisiac or cancer cure, which is not scientifically proven.

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