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Best. Rupert. Ever.

The Indian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), also known as the greater one-horned rhino, is a rhinoceros native to the Indian subcontinent. Among terrestrial land mammals native to Asia, the Indian rhinoceros is second in size only to the Asian elephant and can weigh more than one ton! [1]

Indian rhinos are listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN red list. This is actually good news: the greater one-horned rhino is one of Asia’s biggest success stories, with their status improving from endangered to vulnerable following significant population increases. However, the species still remains under threat from poaching for its horn and from habitat loss and degradation.

Today, we share the chromosome-length assembly for Rupert, an Indian rhino from the Oklahoma City Zoo. That’s him on the photo below and on the blog cover photo (with his mom). Isn’t he the cutie!

One could say Rupert was destined to be sequenced since his parents, Chandra and Niki, met because of their genetic compatibility! Today Rupert is part of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP) developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Today, Rupert lives at Mesker Park Zoo, Indiana. We thank Julia Jones, Liz McCrae, Jennifer D’Agostino and Candice Rennels at the Oklahoma City Zoo for their help with the sample. To learn more about the OKC Zoo visit

This is a $1K genome assembly. For more details about the genome assembly procedure, see Dudchenko et al., 2018.

Rhino Rupert hopping, credit: Lena Kofoed, via Oklahoma City Zoo

Cover photo credits: Nicky and Rupert by Joel Sartore, via Oklahoma City Zoo

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