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HOUSTON After a 54-hour trip from Johannesburg, South Africa, three white rhinos arrived at their new home, the Houston Zoo, late Thursday afternoon.

The rhinos will be living in the Zoo s new African Forest, a 6.5 acre habitat that will open to the public on December 10.

All three of the white rhinos Sibindi, Lynne and Annie-Kamaria are 5 years old. Sibindi is the only male.

The trio made their lengthy journey aboard a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines cargo flight in specially designed, 2,000-pound steel crates that allowed them to stand and lie down comfortably.

The rhinos went first class all the way, said Houston Zoo Director Rick Barongi.  They were accompanied on the flight by a team of veterinarians and animal care specialists from Kruger National Park and the Houston Zoo who had direct access to them at all times to care for them during the trip.

Prior to their trip, the rhinos were given medical checkups and were acclimated to their shipping containers and caretakers. They were also converted to the diet they ll live on at the Houston Zoo.

Southern white rhinos are the largest species of land mammal, after the elephant.

The rhinoceros has roamed the Earth for over 50 million years in fact, it s believed that at one time more than 100 species of rhino existed.

Now, only five species white, black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan survive.

Adult white rhinos weigh a whopping 4,000 to 5,000 pounds and are the most social rhino species.

They have really good hearing and a great sense of smell, but very poor eyesight.

All rhino species are under threat of extinction. Without drastic action, experts fear some rhinos could be extinct in the wild within the next two decades.

Currently, there are about 18,000 white rhinos living in Africa.

So when the African Forest opens in December, show Sibindi, Lynne and Annie-Kamaria some Texas hospitality -- stop by and say hi to three of Houston s biggest residents!

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