Ricko takes his first steps onto Mohawk's SmartStrand carpeting with DuPont Sorona.

A 2,800 pound, 12-year-old black rhinoceros is the star of Mohawk and DuPont’s latest promotion. The two companies have teamed up with the Birmingham Zoo to present the SmartStrand Rhino Challenge, an event where a rhino named Ricko will live on SmartStrand with DuPont Sorona carpeting installed in his enclosure for two weeks. The event will be streamed 24/7 on live webcam feeds atSmartStrandChallenge.com. Additionally, Mohawk is urging its retailers to set up a computer in their showrooms to broadcast the feed to consumers.

“It’s a fun, cute story to engage the consumer and get a discussion going,” said Mohawk spokeswoman Nicki Osborn. “But it also calls attention to the black rhinoceros, which is extremely endangered, with only about 500 black rhinos remaining worldwide.”

Additionally, the event is designed to showcase the durability and stain protection of Mohawk SmartStrand carpet with DuPont Sorona, made using a renewably sourced polymer. “After two weeks we’re going to take the carpet out and clean it. There’s going to be dirt and mud and grime and all kinds of things on it. We’re going to show if the product can live up to this kind of wildlife, imagine what it can do with your wildlife -- if a rhino can live on it and not crush it and not stain it to where it can’t be cleaned,” she noted.

Osborn added that after the carpet is removed and cleaned, Mohawk will most likely bring it with them to any upcoming trade shows the company attends for the rest of the year.

The event is being promoted through a satellite media tour set for today, with 24 news stations across the country running the story, Osborn said. Additionally, Chip Wade, a star on HGTV’s Curb Appeal and Designed To Sell, is promoting the event and has worked closely with zookeepers to add fresh paint and a new mural to Ricko’s 1,040 sq. ft. enclosure.

Along with SmartStrandChallenge.com, the event will be documented on Facebook (Facebook.com/RickoRhino), Twitter (Twitter.com/RickoTheRhino) and YouTube (YouTube.com/MohawkFloors).–Michael Chmielecki