49ers guard Alex Boone is "honored" to have a black rhino, a critically endangered species, named after him at the San Francisco Zoo.
"I love all animals, especially rhinos," Boone told 49ers.com. "I think they're awesome. It's definitely an honor to have such a big, large, beautiful creature named after you, especially with there being so few in the world."
The San Francisco Zoo held their official naming party for "Boone" the rhino on Friday so it was natural that his namesake, Alex Boone, attend.
Boone participated a short party, interacting with children from the 49ers Academy as well as the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, two groups supported in a substantial manner by the 49ers Foundation.
"We come from East Palo Atlo so they come from a really underprivileged neighborhood so bringing them to a zoo, or really anywhere outside of East Palo Alto, is a great opportunity for them," said Navita Wilson, after-school programs director at the 49ers Academy.
With programs like Wilson's in mind, the Alex Boone Animal Education Project was established to give low-income youth the ability to come to the zoo and learn about animals like black rhino.
"A part of our mission is to connect people with wildlife and educate people about conservation," said Jill Lynch, VP of Marketing and Public Relations at the San Francisco Zoo. "We're thrilled to participate with the 49ers on this project. The more kids we can bring to the zoo to see animals first-hand, the more of a connection we build with future generations to help protect these critically endangered species like the rhino."
"It will help bring low-income kids to the zoo to enjoy this amazing environment and the educational opportunities that exist here at the zoo," added Joanne Pasternack, 49ers Director of Community Relations/49ers Foundation. "They'll learn about conservation and the importance of taking care of animals that you may not be able to see in the wild. That's in alignment with the 49ers Foundation's mission to keep kids safe, on track and in school."
After the festivities, Boone headed over to the rhino enclosure. With the help of the zookeepers, Boone was able feed the rhino by hand. A 49ers toy for "Boone," a gift from Alex Boone, was also added to his exhibit.
To donate to the Alex Boone Animal Education Project, click here.