An endangered Indian Rhinoceros (also known as the greater one-horned Rhinoceros) was born Wednesday evening, July 13, at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to second-time mother “Jamie,” in the rhino barn within the Zoo’s Asian Gardens exhibit area. The Indian Rhino birth is the second for the Zoo in two years, and a significant conservation milestone for the species with fewer than 60 animals in the managed population.
The Indian Rhino calf is not yet named, but the Zoo has launched a naming contest on its Facebook page for the online community to participate. A selection of Hindi names -- starting with the letter J in honor of mother Jamie -- are below (in alphabetical order).
- Jahi (JA-hi)“dignified”
- Jamil (JA-mil) “handsome”
- Janmesh (JAN-mish) “king”
- Jaskaran (JAS-ka-ran) “good deeds”
The male calf will receive the name with the most votes through Monday, August 1.
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Indian Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), designed to support the conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. Counting the new male calf, there are a total of just 54 Indian rhinos in AZA-accredited institutions, with an estimated wild population of 2,700-2,850.
"Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo is fortunate to have an animal care team with the expertise to provide for individual animals and to join global efforts to conserve animal species at risk of extinction," said Craig Pugh, executive director/CEO.
The Zoo is home to a breeding pair of Indian rhinos known as “Arjun,” a male, and “Jamie,” a female. The pair’s first offspring, a female named “Jaya,” is two years old and recently relocated to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita on SSP recommendation.
“The birth of this calf demonstrates that the Indian rhino management program at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has matured,” noted Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president and director of collections. “In time, this calf will contribute to the sustainability strategies for this species in North America, and ultimately the species world-wide. Successes like this are only possible as a result of a great deal of hard work and dedication by the animal management staff.”
The Indian rhinoceros is one of five species of rhinos worldwide and one of three species found in Asia. It is native to the remote, swampy grasslands of India, Assam and Nepal. Weighing several thousand pounds on average, the Indian rhino’s most distinct feature is a single horn on the end of its muzzle (three species have two horns), which is composed of keratin – the same protein that forms human fingernails and hair. The species has a unique upper lip, known as a prehensile lip, which acts as a hook to grasp onto plants and food in its herbivore diet (grass, twigs, bamboo shoots, water hyacinths and various produce). Indian rhinos have been described with “armor-like skin” due to the presence of skin folds, however the skin is actually supple due to frequent wallowing in water and mud.
The gestation period for Indian rhino pregnancies is approximately 16 months. When born, calves normally weigh in the range of 75-100 pounds and will nurse throughout their first two years. They are normally able to stand just hours after being born.
The Zoo’s mother rhino and calf will spend time together off exhibit for the newborn’s safety and privacy in bonding. The father will be separated from the calf for the time being.