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Mar-13-2010 15:27printcomments

U.S. Dentist Helps Save African Rhinos from Extinction

Thula Thula game reserve cares for rhinos until they are old enough to be released into the wild.
There are only about 17,500 Southern White Rhinos remaining in the wild, and they are registered as "vulnerable", as reported by the International Rhino Foundation. This is not the exact rhino referenced in the story, but it is of the same type and general appearance. Courtesy:

(BUFFALO, N.Y.) - Last August, Dr. Leslie Glassbrenner, of Gentle Dentistry of East Aurora, PLLC travelled to South Africa on an Eco-Safari organized by the Earth Organization ( to a wildlife game reserve called Thula Thula (which means ‘peace and tranquility’ in Zulu) and adopted a White Rhino to help save them from extinction. (

In the wild, adult rhinoceroses have few natural predators other than humans. Rhinos are killed by poachers for their precious keratin-containing horns, which are used in expensive medicines, providing a sales market. Whereas the white rhino is the most abundant species of rhinos, they have been steadily on the decline for years, and are in danger of extinction in our lifetime.

While on safari, Lawrence Anthony, the owner of the game reserve, asked Dr. Glassbrenner if she would be interested in obtaining a baby white rhino to be a companion to Heidi, the only rhino left on the reserve.

Until Dr. Glassbrenner’s arrival, Heidi’s only companionship had been a group of wildebeests. Because of her firm commitment to helping animal life on planet earth, Dr. Glassbrenner agreed to bring Thabo, a baby rhino to the reserve. Tragically, shortly after Dr. Glassbrenner left, and before baby Thabo arrived, Heidi was killed by poachers wanting her horns. Two months after her death, Baby Thabo arrived at Thula Thula.

Relocated to Thula Thula on October 25, 2009, the 170kg youngster arrived after a fourteen hour trip from Limpopo. Thula Thula acquired the rhino from the Moholoholo Rehab Centre in Limpopo after the one-day old calf was found alone and badly dehydrated in a Free State game reserve.

Thula Thula game reserve will care for him until he is old enough to be released into the wild. “We do not believe in keeping captive animals”, said owner Lawrence Anthony, “For us, the only good cage is an empty cage, and this youngster is destined for a happy life in the wild.” To cut down on human interaction, get him used to his species and aid his release, the search began for a similar aged female rhino. The search was successful, and on December 22, 2009, baby rhino Ntombi arrived from Moholoholo Rehab Center in Limpopo. Ntombi was rescued in October 2009 by the Moholoholo Rehab Center after her mother got killed by another rhino in front of her.

White rhinos

There are only about 17,500 Southern White Rhinos remaining in the wild, and they are registered as "vulnerable", as reported by the International Rhino Foundation. However, the population of the second subspecies, the critically-endangered Northern White Rhinoceros, is down to as few as four individuals in the wild, and as of June 2008, this sub-species are thought to have become extinct in the wild.

While in Africa, Dr. Glassbrenner visited a local hospital and taught the children there how to brush their teeth and presented them all with toothbrushes.

Dr. Glassbrenner is planning another trip this summer to visit Thabo and to teach more children dental hygiene. She encourages anyone who is interested in saving the animals or helping the children of Africa to plan their trip to Thula Thula. “It will change your life and you will never be the same again,” Says Dr. Glassbrenner.

Dr. Glassbrenner is the owner and CEO of one of the fastest growing dental practices in Western New York, but that never deters her from helping others when she can.

Gentle Dentistry of East Aurora, NY

Gentle Dentistry is located at 215 Main St. East Aurora, NY 14052 and the newly opened Office is located at 5007 Transit Road, Depew, NY 14043. For more information call (716) 655-7080 or visit them at

Lawrence Anthony and Earth Organization

Lawrence Anthony received the prestigious Earth Day Award at the United Nations in March 2004 for his rescue of the animals at the Baghdad zoo.

In September 2004, he was invited to become the first South African Member of the esteemed "Explorers Club" of New York. Lawrence Anthony is the founder of the international "Earth Organization" dedicated to environmental issues.

Lawrence is the author of two books: Babylon's Ark, the incredible wartime rescue of the Baghdad Zoo, and his latest book, released in South Africa in August 2009, The Elephant Whisperer, the extraordinary story of one man's dedication to save his herd.

To learn more about Eco Safaris and how you can help, go to:

To see pictures of Thabo go to

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