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At Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, a Southern White Rhinoceros calf was born in the early morning hours on Wednesday, December 7, to second-time mother “Kidogo” in the African Rhino boma (barn) which houses the animals overnight. The birth marks the second Rhino born at the Zoo this year, preceded by an Indian Rhinoceros (also known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros) born in July.



Photo credits: Zoo docent Dave Parkinson

“Every rhino birth, regardless of which species, is significant in our global efforts to protect these animals,” noted Dr. Larry Killmar, VP and director of collections. “During the past 16 months, the animal care staff applied sound animal husbandry principals that resulted in this, our second successful birth of a southern white rhino.”

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Rhino Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) including the southern white rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP), designed to support the conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is currently home to a herd of five white rhinos: three adult females who came to the Zoo from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male and the new female offspring. Kidogo’s first offspring, a male named “Kito,” relocated to Knoxville Zoo in November on SSP recommendation.  As a species that lives in a herd, Kidogo and calf will be gradually introduced to the other rhinos and the Grevy’s zebra, who share their exhibit.

Native to eastern and southern Africa, the southern white rhinoceros is classified as “near threatened.” The white rhino is thought to be named after an English misinterpretation of the Afrikaans word, “weit,” meaning wide. The land grazing mammals have unique square-lipped mouths that allow them to eat wide amounts of grasses found throughout savannahs.

The white rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, the most prominent in the front. Both horns are made out of keratin, the same material found in human hair and nails. Unlike the Indian rhino, white rhinos use their horns as a defense mechanism.  Females use their horn to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult white rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves estimated to weigh between 100-140 pounds.

The white 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 African names selected by the Zoo’s animal care team -- starting with the letter K in honor of mother Kidogo -- are below (in alphabetical order).

·         Kafi – “quiet”
·         Kande - “first born daughter”
·         Kato – “second born”
·         Kwaku – “born on Wednesday” 

The female calf will receive her name just in time for the holidays with the most votes through Friday, Dec. 23.