Because You Live Here!

Rhino Encounters

Interested in meeting Southwick’s Zoo’s white rhinos, Thelma and Louise, up close and personal? Rhino Encounters provide zoo visitors the unique opportunity to meet these two amazing creatures up close and personal while learning more about rhinoceros conservation.

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

2024 Rhino Encounter Registration is OPEN!

What is the goal of rhino encounters?

We are working with Southwick’s Zoo to offer zoo visitors a unique way to learn more about and support rhino conservation. Our goal is to have participants leave with a better understanding of the poaching crisis and a greater desire to contribute to conservation efforts for rhinos after spending time with Thelma and Louise.

The majority of proceeds from rhino encounters are donated to rhinoceros conservation, with most of the proceeds benefiting Project Rhino, a program founded by Wildlife ACT. The remaining proceeds support our educational and conservation projects. Funds donated to Project Rhino support anti-poaching and rhino conservation strategies including ranger training, equipment & resources for game reserves, community education programs, informant funding, legislation & lobbying, and other initiatives.

Rules & Guidelines

  • Rhino Encounters are only available during the normal zoo season (mid-April through October).
  • Rhino Encounter participants must be at least 12 years of age. Those under 18 must also be accompanied by a paid adult.
  • Spots are limited and must be reserved online at least 24 hours in advance.
  • Zoo passes, gift cards, coupons, discounts, or other offers cannot be applied to the price of rhino encounters.
  • Rhino Encounters take place before the zoo opens for the day, so only paid and registered rhino encounter participants are allowed entry into the zoo during the encounter.
  • 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.


Non-member: $165 (+ processing fee)/participant

EARTH Ltd. Member: $145 (+ processing fee)/participant

Includes: An encounter with Southwick’s Zoo’s two white rhinos and admission to the zoo for the day of your encounter.

Please meet us at 9:00am in front of the zoo’s main entrance the day of your encounter. Rhino Encounters take place before the zoo opens for the day, so only paid and registered rhino encounter participants are allowed entry into the zoo during the encounter. If others in your party are joining you to visit the zoo after your encounter, please plan to meet them inside the entrance around 10:00am-10:30am.

Note to EARTH members: To receive your member discount, you must be logged in to your member account.
*Must be a current EARTH member at the time of registration to receive the member discount. Discounts cannot be applied retroactively.

Note: Rhino Encounter dates are added 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 Please be aware that rhino encounters are only available during the normal zoo season (mid-April through October), 9:00am-10:00am.

Rhino Encounter T-Shirts

Want to remember this day forever? Participants can purchase T-Shirts at the EARTH Ltd. Discovery Center the day of their encounter. T-Shirts are $25/each and available in ladies’ and men’s sizing.

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

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

Located at Southwick’s Zoo

2 Southwick’s Street

Mendon, MA 01756



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