In 1963, the San Diego Zoo received its first greater one-horned rhino, a one-year-old named Lasai.
  • 1960s
  • 1980s

Lasai came to the San Diego Zoo from the Basel Zoo in Switzerland. With his arrival, the Zoo’s collection could boast black, white, and greater one-horned rhinoceros species. Each species was housed in newly constructed, moated exhibit areas on the large mammal mesa. According to a ZOONOOZ article at the time, “these enclosures are equipped with all modern conveniences a rhinoceros might need for luxurious living, including spacious exercise, eating, and retiring quarters, as well as mud baths. Lasai’s home is the newest and has the added feature of a swimming pool.”

A large volume of correspondence from the time reflects our efforts to obtain a mate for Lasai. In 1965, Jaypuri, a young female born in India’s Kaziranga National Park, joined our boy. When the pair transferred to the fledgling Wild Animal Park (today’s Safari Park) in 1972, breeding hopes ran high. But it wasn’t until 1978 that we welcomed the birth of our first surviving greater one-horned rhino calf, Gainda. Her parents produced five more calves together over the years. Lasai was a favorite among the keepers, and one described him as “so comfortable being around people that he actually sought us out as if to see what we were doing!”

Today, the Safari Park has had seven generations of greater one-horned rhino births, making it the foremost breeding facility in the world for this species!

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