In fall 2012, what started as a simple day at the San Francisco Zoo for 49ers guard Alex Boone and his family led to an unlikely fascination with the Zoo's newest acquisition, a four-year-old black rhino. The rhino's strength, speed and critically endangered status struck a chord with Alex, and he asked, repeatedly, what he could do to help the Zoo. From his enthusiasm—and through a collaboration between the Zoo and the 49ers—the Alex Boone Animal Education Project was created to bring local at-risk youth to the Zoo. To thank Alex Boone for his efforts and continued support for the Zoo, the black rhino has been named "Boone."
On Friday, June 14, Alex Boone, the Gold Rush cheerleaders and Sourdough Sam will be at the San Francisco Zoo for the official "Alex Boone Rhino Naming Party." At 2 p.m., a 49ers VIP event will take place in the Nature Exploration Meadow, where special guests from the 49ers Academy in East Palo Alto and 49ers Kids Club will enjoy an afternoon snack, spray-on tattoos, ball-toss games, live music from the Raytones and goodie bags. At 3 p.m., all Zoo visitors are invited to the black rhino exhibit to see Alex Boone feed Boone the black rhino and unveil the honorary "Boone" plaque.
"There are very few black rhinos left on this planet, so to have one named after me is truly an honor," said 49ers guard Alex Boone. "It's awesome to share a close connection with a black rhino, but it's even better that we can raise awareness for these endangered species through the Alex Boone Animal Education Project." A common goal of the Zoo and the 49ers Foundation is to engage and educate local youth, and through Alex Boone's unusual connection to a black rhino, they have found a way to do this together.