Skip to main content
Rhinoceros horns are made of a fibrous protein called keratin, and so are nails, claws, hooves, feathers and hair. Photo: 123RF

Support World Rhino Day At The S'pore Zoo By Donating... Your Nail Clippings?

If you flinched at the thought of putting your nail clippings anywhere else but in the dustbin – let alone donating them for a good cause – don't worry, we cringed too. But think about what poachers do to rhinos to get their horns, and you'll squirm even more.

In fact, it has been reported that over 1,000 rhinos were killed in South Africa last year and that there are only about 29,500 of them left in the world. The reason for the butchery: to fuel the demand for rhino horns that some ill-informed people believe have medicinal properties, and that ingesting them will cure ailments like fevers and headaches.

There are five species of rhinos: Sumatran, Javan, Black, Greater One-Horned and White. All of them are endangered, but the Javan and Sumatran are considered critically endangered with less than 80 of the former left in Sumatra and Borneo, and only about 65 of the latter remaining in Java, Indonesia.

So, what's this got to do with nail clippings? Well, horns are made of a fibrous protein called keratin, and so are nails, feathers, claws, hair, hooves and feathers.

Therefore, to educate and encourage visitors to show their support of rhino conservation efforts, the Singapore Zoo has come up with a "Jar of Nails" to collect nail clippings every weekend until 19 Oct 2019. Once the drive is over, they will be used in educational programmes.

In addition, the zoo will be holding a photo exhibition and seminar – all this to celebrate World Rhino Day on 22 Sep.

According to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (or WRS, the parent organisation of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo), 23 white rhino calves have been bred at Singapore Zoo, and "many of them are sent to zoos in Asia and USA as part of an inter-zoo breeding and exchange programme".

In an Instagram post, WRS added: "Our keepers spend months preparing the rhinos for Moving Day by training them to get comfortable in their custom-made crates. The rhinos are flown and escorted to their new zoos by a small team of keepers and vets to ease the transition process. At their new zoos, our rhinos will have opportunities to breed and diversify the species gene pool.⁣"

As you make your way to the zoo (via the Mandai Khatib Shuttle or public buses 138 and 927) to see and celebrate these magnificent creatures, here's something groovy to entertain you on your commute, courtesy of a World Rhino Day website: a 2hr 19min rhino-themed Spotify playlist of albums, songs and bands that have the word "rhino" or "rhinoceros".

For the latest updates on, be sure to follow us on TikTok, Telegram, Instagram, and Facebook. If you have a story idea for us, email us at [email protected].

Share with others!