What would you do if you came across a Tinder profile for a 6-foot, 5,000-pound rhino? Would you swipe right?
Well, meet the "most eligible bachelor in the world": Sudan, the rhino.
Conservationists have turned to online dating to help raise funds to help save Sudan's subspecies.
He lives at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and is the last known surviving male northern white rhino. Sudan lives alongside two female northern white rhinos, Fatu and Najin, but at 44, his age and low sperm count have kept him from breeding.
So last year, the Ol Pajeta Conservancy reached out to a public relations team to create a Tinder profile for Sudan in hopes of raising enough money to fund an in vitro fertilization (IVF) program.
When people "swiped right" on Sudan's profile, they were asked to donate money to help save the species.
"In terms of the money raised, we were aiming to raise about $1 million and we raised about $85,000 which was a bit disappointing," explained Elodie Sampere, the head of marketing at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. "But in terms of publicity and putting Sudan on the map or people understanding what's going on with rhinos, I think it was a great success."
Keepers are looking at pursuing IVF and artificial insemination because previous attempts to breed the rhinos have failed.
The problem, Sampere explained, is that this has never been done in rhinos before and it's a very complicated process, especially for the female rhinos. Sampere said the female rhinos could die while their eggs are being extracted.
"So there is a team in Europe that is working on the technique and they are getting better and better at it," Sampere said. "It hasn't been fully perfected yet, but they are getting there, so we are hoping in the next year or two, they will be able to extract the eggs from the female."
From there, researchers will create an embryo that will be carried by a southern white rhino. The hope is that at least 10 calves can be reproduced this way, but that could cost anywhere from $1 million for a single calf to $10 million for 10 calves.
"The hope here is not just to have one calf but to have 10, so we have a viable herd that can then reproduce on its own and basically bring the species back from the brink of extinction," Sampere added.
Rhinos are native to South Sudan, Congo, Central Africa Republic and Chad, which have each faced years of civil wars.
As a result, this subspecies of rhino has been hunted to the brink of extinction by poachers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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