The Party was inspired by Cacareco, a rhinoceros at the São Paulo zoo in Brazil, which was a candidate for the 1958 city council elections with the intention of protesting against political corruption. Electoral officials did not accept Cacareco's candidacy, but he eventually won 100,000 votes, more than any other party in that same election (which was also marked by rampant absenteeism). Today, the term "Voto Cacareco" (Cacareco vote) is commonly used to describe protest votes in Brazil.
During the Canadian federal election of 1984, the party made a major part of their platform declaring war on Belgium because a Belgian cartoon character, Tintin, killed a rhinoceros in one of the early works of the comics series. The party offered to call off the threatened Belgium-Canada war if Belgium delivered a case of mussels and a case of Belgian beer to Rhinoceros "Hindquarters" in Montreal (the Belgian Embassy in Ottawa did, in fact, do this).
The Granby Zoo eventually traded Cornelius to the San Diego Zoo in exchange for a giraffe. The San Diego Zoo loaned him to the Caldwell Zoo, where he fathered an offspring on January 6, 2003.
The name "Cornelius" is a French-language pun, as the French word for "horn" is corne.