Sally and Barney

When Barney met Sally, Zoo staff witnessed a different side of black rhinos.
  • 1950s
  • 1960s

Sally, the Zoo’s first black rhino (as well as the first rhino of any type at the Zoo), quickly earned a reputation as a bit of a coquette when she arrived in 1952. A piece in ZOONOOZ at the time opined that, “she reserves the use of her ocular organs for the purpose of making calf’s eyes at her keepers.” It goes on to describe other “kittenish” behavior no one expected from an animal with a reputation for a quick temper. But when it comes to a softer side, the best was yet to come.

When Barney joined Sally at the Zoo in 1954, they were housed in adjoining spaces with a sturdy, low cement wall between them. They could smell and hear each other, and often would rest their chins on their respective sides and nuzzle. One time, Barney suddenly turned away. A keeper watched as he thrust his head into a pile of alfalfa and carried a mass of it between his two horns. Returning to the wall, he held his head just so, allowing Sally to extend her lip and gather some of the lush green hay.

Once the Zoo was able to give the pair a large enough exhibit, Barney and Sally were together all the time. They never had any offspring, but they enjoyed each other’s company for many, many years.

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