It’s a critical time for rhinos everywhere — and with two of the world’s five rhino species perilously close to extinction, the Oregon Zoo’s Bowling for Rhinos fundraiser, now in its 28th year, is more important than ever.
“This is a great opportunity to have some fun, mingle with zookeepers and help some of the most endangered animals on the planet,” said zoo curator Becca Van Beek. “Rhinos are in serious trouble. Over the past decade, poaching and illegal trade have reached their highest levels ever.”
Bowling for Rhinos — taking place Saturday, June 10, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. at Sunset Lanes in Beaverton — is the American Association of Zoo Keepers’ largest conservation fundraising event. It has raised more than $6 million since its inception.
Portland-area bowlers — inspired by Oregon Zoo residents such as eastern black rhinos Ruka and Zuri — are responsible for more than $307,000 of that, the highest total of any AAZK chapter in North America.
All proceeds go to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Ujung Kulon National Park, Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park and Way Kambas National Park. Located in Kenya, India and Indonesia, these parks protect the five extant species of rhinoceros — black, white, Indian, Javan and Sumatran — while providing habitat for hundreds of other endangered plant and animal species.
“We’ve gone from half a million to a few thousand rhinos left in the blink of an eye,” according to U.K. naturalist Steve Backshall. “While those left in the wild are ludicrously precious, the rhinos that are in zoos (which were bred there, born there and cannot ever be released into the wild) are of disproportionate importance to their kind.”
Teams and individuals can register to participate by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Bowlers raise funds by gathering tax-deductible pledges from friends, family and anyone who wants to keep rhinos from extinction. While bowlers are not required to collect pledges to participate, every dollar makes a difference for rhinos. A $10 participation fee includes shoe rental and three games of bowling. The Portland event features door prizes and raffles for a variety of items, and five free raffle tickets are awarded for every $100 collected in pledges.