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On the afternoon of February 25th, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed the newest member of their East African Plains exhibit with the birth of a healthy male Southern White Rhino calf. The young boy has since been named Kayode, which means "he brings joy" in the African language of Yoruba. He is sure to do just that for the visitors who come to see him as the youngster is already showing lots of quirks and personality. "Kayode is a little tank, a very cute little tank, and he is showing lots of personality. He loves running and interacting with his mom, sticking out his tongue, and showing the buffalo in his enclosure he’s a rhino and he’s in charge," said the lead keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Jane Kennedy.

While Kayode was just an estimated 150 pounds when he was first born, this small stature, for a rhino that is, won't last long. In the first year of his life, Kayode will grow around 100 pounds each and every month. By the time he is full grown, he will be a massive 4,000-5,000 pounds.

Photo credits (above): Ken Bohn / San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Photo credits (below): Greg Pinter

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Although Kayode is his mother Kacy's first offspring, she has been a fantastic mom thus far. She has taken care to protect her son and make sure he never strays too far off in their expansive enclosure. In addition, where Kacy's experience lacks, the staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park more than makes up for it. Kayode is the 93rd Southern White Rhino calf born at the facility in its 41 years in existence, more than any other zoo in the world. In addition, Kayode is just the sixth 3rd-generation calf born at the zoo.

See and learn much more after the fold!

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Despite the immense success of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Southern White Rhino breeding program, this birth is still a tremendous achievement for the species, which hasn't had the same fortune in the wild. Although there are an estimated 20,000 individuals still left in the wild, the Southern White Rhino is classified as "near threatened" by the IUCN due to intensive poaching for the illegal use of rhino horn. It is thought that a rhino is illegally poached once every eleven hours to fuel the demand for this highly illegal commodity.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy are doing their best to help ensure the long-term viability of this endangered species. Through both captive breeding and the funding of field programs in the Southern White Rhino's home range, the Conservancy has established itself as a world leader in the efforts to help ensure the rhino's survival.