A male Black Rhinoceros calf was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on May 17. The calf has been named Moyo (“heart” in Swahili). He is the second offspring for mother, Kati Rain, and father, Ajabu.
According to keepers, the little male is nursing well and being cared for by his mother. The pair has been bonding in their barn behind the scenes in their River’s Edge exhibit. A date has not yet been set for their public debut.
This is the second Black Rhino to be born at the Zoo in 26 years and only the tenth in
Saint Louis Zoo’s history. Moyo’s older brother, named Ruka, was born in 2011. In the summer of 2015, Ruka moved to the Oregon Zoo to pair with a compatible female there, as recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Black Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP).
Kati Rain and Ajabu arrived at the Zoo’s River’s Edge in 2007. Kati Rain is from Sedgwick County Zoo, and Ajabu is from San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Both are 13 years old.
The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), also known as the Hook-lipped Rhinoceros, is a species native to eastern and southern Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Although it is referred to as “black”, its colors vary from brown to grey.
The critically endangered Black Rhino has experienced the most drastic decline of any of the five surviving Rhino species. Between 1970 and 1992, the Black Rhino population in Africa dropped by 96 percent. By 1993, only 2,300 individuals survived in the wild.
Black Rhinos are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching for their horns, and to a lesser extent by loss of habitat. The horn is falsely believed to be medicine in many Asian cultures. Because of conservationists’ intensive anti-poaching efforts in the 1990s and 2000s, the number of Black Rhinos in the wild began increasing slowly.
The species overall is classified as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN, and three subspecies, including the Western Black Rhinoceros, were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011.
Current estimates show 5,055 individual Black Rhinos are alive in the wild. The Saint Louis Zoo’s Black Rhinos are part of the AZA Black Rhino SSP, a program to manage a genetically healthy population of Black Rhinos in North American zoos.
With the addition of Moyo, there are currently 60 Eastern Black Rhinos in 26 AZA institutions. The Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa supports the Sera Rhino Sanctuary in northern Kenya in partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust. Additionally, the Zoo’s WildCare Institute supports the Stop Poaching Now program through the International Rhino Foundation.