West Palm Beach, FL – In a very special celebration on World Rhino Day, Lion Country Safari welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf to its herd on Sept. 22, 2021.
This big baby is also a very big deal in the conservation world. She is a significant new part of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan, a national collaboration to save this imperiled species from extinction. In celebration of the birth and in honor of World Rhino Day, Lion Country Safari is making a donation to the International Rhino Foundation.
Both the calf and mom are spending quality time bonding in a maternity area, which is visible to guests from their cars in the drive-through safari. Lion Country Safari is one of only a few drive-through safari experiences in the United States.
The baby, named Aziza (meaning precious), is the second offspring born to 8-year-old mom Anna. She is the 37th rhino calf born at the park since 1979. During the 1970s, this species was teetering on the edge of extinction with less than 1,000 individuals left on the planet. Today, thanks to multi-national collaborative breeding and protection efforts, there are an estimated 20,000 white rhinos and each new birth contributes to their continued conservation.
Lion Country Safari’s veterinary team monitored Anna’s health with regular ultrasound exams and blood tests to ensure that mom and calf were progressing well throughout the 16-month pregnancy.
Rhino mothers give birth to a single calf weighing between 88 and 132 pounds (40-60 kg). Aziza is expected to gain 3-4 pounds (1-2kg) a day from her mother's milk, and will gain about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) a year for the first three years. Baby rhinos nurse for almost two years.
Of the five species of rhinos (White, Black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan), the white rhino is the most abundant, but all 5 species are in peril due mostly to poaching. The Southern White Rhinoceros is the only species of rhino that eats just grasses; the others also browse on trees and shrubs.
Lion Country Safari is home to 14 White Rhinos – 11 females and 3 males and is a proud participant of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP ensures that a genetically sound population of White Rhinos survives should threats worsen in the wild.