FREEPORT -- Construction is underway at a central Minnesota zoo hoping to welcome two newcomers this spring.

Hemker Park and Zoo in Freeport will soon be the first zoo in the state to have rhinoceroses. Joan Hemker says they just might not be exactly what people think of when they think of rhinos.

They will be two male Indian Rhinos. A lot of people ask us why not White Rhinos? White Rhinos are the most popular of all the rhinos and there's a lot of zoos that focus on them, but all rhinos need to be focused on because they are all endangered. What you see at Hemker Park and Zoo is our efforts towards conserving and preserving endangered species and all wildlife.

The enclosure will include an indoor space with sand and a wallow pit as well as an outdoor pasture where the rhinos can roam.

Visitors will be able to see the rhinos up close, from behind the safety of beams designed to withstand the strength of the nearly 6,000-pound animals. Hemker says they eventually would also like to add a feeding experience to the exhibit.

The whole process started six years ago and the family hopes to have everything ready by the time the zoo opens for the season in May.

We think it will be fun for this part of Minnesota to be able to have a zoo that has rhinos available for everyone to see.


Hemker Park and Zoo opened in 1977 and currently houses more than 50 species of animals from all over the world.

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