Rhino in residence. Office hours in Long Hall.
There’s a rhino on campus!
No, really, there is a rhino on campus.
His name is Stanlee, and he lives in Long Hall. He makes his home in a glass case smack dab in the middle of the building’s entryway foyer.
His current residency begins his second round of living in the area — he used to be housed in the Clemson Burger King. Now, he’s a permanent member of our streak (the technical term for a group of tigers), and he’s here to educate us — mostly about himself.
The story of his journey starts in the 1980s in South Africa. An aggressive member of his community, he defied attempts to help him live in peace with other animals and human settlements. In the end, conservation managers elected to have him put down. They did it by coordinating with South Carolinian, and Central resident, Monty Browning, a big game hunter.
Browning, insistent that the animal be used for educational purposes, partnered with the Clemson Burger King to have the specimen preserved and displayed.
Having a rhino around is a big deal, bigger than just its size. Most people have no concept of what exactly the second largest land mammal looks like — but more importantly, they don’t know about the poaching that can plague rhinos, an activity that led to our own Stanlee’s Southern White Rhino subspecies’ “near threatened” status. This illegal hunting has also resulted in the near extinction of the Northern White Rhino, a related subspecies.
Professor of vertebrate biology Rick Blob helped bring Stanlee to Clemson in partnership with the Campbell Museum of Natural History, curated by Stanlee Miller. Yes, it’s not an accident that the Stanlees have the same name. Blob and Miller transported the specimen via U-Haul to Clemson University from the collections of the Museum of York County in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he had been housed for the past several years. Miller had to employ various measures to bring him to mint condition after Stanlee’s 30-year journey.
“The alternative to bringing the rhino here was having it be devalued by being destroyed and lost to education, which can actually perpetuate bad beliefs about animal care,” Blob explained. “Here, we can maximize its value.”
Maximizing that value comes in part with Stanlee’s ability to illustrate biodiversity as a display in Long Hall. Seeing a range of diversity gives students the tools to appreciate the capacities of animals in ways that books don’t always provide.
“For some people, this may be the only rhino they see in their entire life,” Blob said. “It’s striking and dramatic, with its own special connection to Clemson.”