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Is Inbreeding Endangered Rhinos Ethical?

The population of Sumatran Rhinos is rapidly decreasing. An estimated one hundred of these endangered species roam free in the wild. Elizabeth Kolbert reports on the ethical issue arising from endangered species like the Sumatran rhinos. With only two left in captivity, researchers decided to breed Harapan, a young undeveloped male rhino, and Suci, a 9-year-old female, with hopes that they would produce offspring. However, Harapan and Suci are brother and sister. As Kolbert reports, “The decision to try to breed Harapan and Suci is a sign of just how desperate the situation of Sumatran rhinos has become.”  Kolbert concludes: “Once a slow-to-reproduce species like the Sumatran rhino is down to its last 100 individuals, there just aren’t many options left… It is painful to imagine a world in which the Sumatran rhino has no place. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to see what that place is.”

Source: Elizabeth Kolbert, “Sex and the Single Rhino,” OnEarth (Natural Resources Defense Council), March 10, 2014,

Student Researcher: Shelby Duncan (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot Cohen (Indian River State College)

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