HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden announced it is sending its Rhino, Rupert, off to breed with some female rhinos in California.

Zoo officials note that visitors may have noticed a large crate in the Rhinoceros exhibit outside of the Kley Memorial Building. Officials say this is because Rupert, its Indian Rhinoceros, will heading across the country.

Mesker Park Zoo says Rupert is one of the most genetically valuable Indian Rhinoceros males in North American zoo population, and as a part of ongoing efforts to help protect potentially endangered species, he will be traveling to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this fall to breed with their females.

Zoo officials say this was recommended by the Association of Zoo and Aquarium Species Survival Plan (SSP), which are led by expert advisors who cooperatively work together to maximize genetic diversity, appropriately manage the demographic distribution and long-term sustainability of the species under human care. The zoo says these plans are designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse population for the long-term future.

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden said to prepare for this cross-country trip, Rupert has been voluntarily crate-training with his keepers. The zoo says it knows that Rupert will be missed by staff and the community alike, as he leaves Evansville to “discover his potential.”

A spokesperson for the zoo posted, “After Rupert’s departure, we will be working with crews to make some small-but impactful updates before we prepare to receive a new male Indian Rhinoceros in the Spring!”