Rhino Encounters

matt lightEver wondered what it’s like to scratch a rhino behind the ears?

Meet Southwick’s Zoo’s white rhinos, Thelma and Louise, up close and personal! We are working with Southwicks’ Zoo to give zoo visitors a unique way to learn more about rhino conservation. All proceeds from rhino encounters support rhinoceros conservation. In 2016, we raised $15,120 through encounters and 100% of the proceeds were donated to Project Rhino.

Rhino encounters last about an hour in total. Participants first watch a brief video about rhinoceros conservation. After this brief video, participants are brought to the encounter area where they get to meet and touch our white rhinos, Thelma and Louise.

*Spots are limited and must be reserved online at least 24 hours in advance. Zoo passes, coupons, discounts, or other offers cannot be applied to the price of rhino encounters.


Non-members: $99 (+ $6.03 processing fee)
EARTH Member: $79 (+ $6.03 processing fee)

Note to members: To receive your member discount, click “enter promotional code” when you register. Your code is the first 5 letters of your last name + the first 2 letters of your first name. Example: John Smith’s code would be SMITHJO. If your last name is fewer than 5 letters, just use your full last name + the first 2 letters of your first name, Jane Doe’s code would be DOEJA.

Includes: Admission to Southwick’s Zoo for the day and an encounter with their two white rhinos.

Notes: Rhino Encounters begin at 9:00am which is before the zoo’s normal hours. Only people who have purchased rhino encounter tickets are allowed entry into the zoo during the encounter. Please meet us at 9:00am at the zoo’s front entrance the day of your encounter.


Encounter Guidelines

  • Rhino Encounter participants must be at least 12 years of age. Those under 18 must also be accompanied by a paid adult.
  • Only registered and paid rhino encounter participants are allowed into the encounter area.
  • We suggest wearing comfortable closed-toe shoes. We DO NOT recommend wearing flip flops or sandals.
  • Cancellation/Reschedule Policy: If you need to cancel your encounter, we require at least 1 week’s notice for full refund. If you need to reschedule to another date, please contact us at least 1 week in advance with a new desired date. We cannot reschedule encounters to a date that does not have an appropriate number of openings remaining, so please check the list of dates on the registration page first.
  • If poor weather is predicted for the day of your encounter, you may reschedule to another date. In this case, please try to contact us with a new date as early as possible to reschedule.

Click here to view the current rhino encounter schedule and register

*We will add more Rhino Encounter dates throughout the season. If there is a particular day you would like to do an encounter that is not on the schedule, please contact Betsey Brewer at betsey@southwickszoo.com.

Rhino Encounter T-Shirts: Participants can purchase T-Shirts at the EARTH Discovery Center the day of their encounter. T-Shirts are $25/each and available in ladies’ and men’s sizing.

Comments from previous rhino encounter participants:

  • “Both Jessica and I would like to thank you for the incredible Rhino Encounter this last Saturday, 8/2. We were both awe struck as we left the rhino area; stunned with the “up close” magnificence of this beautiful creature.”
    Stan Coombs,  August 2014
  • One of our rhino encounter participants wrote about it on her blog. Check it out!Thelma and I 1
  • Thelma and Louise were absolutely everything I hoped two rhinos would be! They were so sweet and gentle, and I could not believe how much they just loved the attention and affection! This was undeniably the best day of my life, and having two rhinos so openly enjoy my company was the most meaningful experience that I will treasure forever. Truly a gift of nature, I feel so honored for my life to have crossed paths with theirs. I literally cannot thank you enough, I am so speechless in expressing my gratitude. I have also spent my day encouraging as many people as I can to come and share this experience, to share in both the beauty and the endeavor of the rhino. I feel it is the least I can do to help them and their kind, and I would do whatever else I could.
    Jake Waldman, August 2015

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