White Rhino Legacy Continues at the Wilds
November 20, 2014
A male Southern White Rhino was born at the Wilds, in Ohio, on November 12th. He is the first fifth-generation White Rhino, on record, to be born outside of Africa.
Photo Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center in Southeast Ohio, produced the first fourth-generation White Rhino outside of Africa in 2009, and remains the only facility to produce fourth-generation calves; seven have been born to date.
“The birth of fourth and now fifth-generation White Rhinos in human care is a remarkable achievement,” said President/CEO Tom Stalf. “We attribute this success to our expansive habitats and large herds that allow for natural social behavior, as well as the specialized care they receive from our dedicated team.”
This is the first calf for ‘Anan’, whose birth was also notable since she was the first fourth-generation rhino born at the Wilds. The calf’s father is ‘Fireball’, who was born in 2002 and arrived at the Wilds in 2008. Before leaving for another zoo in 2013, as part of the Species Survival Plan, Fireball sired ten calves while at the Wilds.
This is the 16th White Rhino born at the Wilds; the conservation center has also produced five Asian One-Horned Rhinos.
“The calf appears to be doing well, but the first few weeks are always a critical time for any newborn,” said Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management. “They will spend the winter inside our Rhino Management Center and move into our open pastures in the spring.”
The White Rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th Century, but through conservation efforts, the wild population has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, they remain classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List. All five remaining rhino species are persecuted by poachers who sell their horns for medicinal or ornamental purposes. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from the Wilds, estimates one rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.
White Rhino calves are born after a gestation of 16 months and they can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands, interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.
Aside from their size, two of their most prolific physical characteristics are: two pointed horns and a wide mouth, suitable for grazing. The name White Rhinoceros originated from the Afrikaans word describing its mouth: ‘weit’, meaning wide. Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the word weit for white.