(credit: MN Zoo)

(credit: MN Zoo)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Zoo landed some international honors this week.

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The Association of Zoos and Aquariums presented the zoo an award for Significant Achievement in International Conversation for the science-based management of rhino conversation and tourism on Namibia’s communal lands program.

“The Minnesota Zoo is a proven leader in international wildlife conservation,” said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy in a release. “While all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums make conservation a top priority, this award brings well-deserved recognition to the Minnesota Zoo for making a positive impact on the future of this species.”

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The zoo is playing an important role in conserving one of the planet’s most endangered species, according to Minnesota Zoo Director/CEO Lee Ehmke.

Between 1970 and 1990, more than 95 percent of the world’s black rhino were exterminated to supply an illegal global trade in rhino horn.

Over the past five years in Namibia’s remote northwest Kunene region, where the world’s largest free-ranging black rhino population persists mainly on formally unprotected lands, the Minnesota Zoo and Namibian partners Save the Rhino Trust and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism have been addressing these challenges by adopting a more science- based, community-centered approach to rhino management.

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The collective effort combines science with innovative local engagement strategies that have maintained population growth and range expansion while also keeping poachers at bay.