San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Boosts Rhino Conservation Efforts: Southern White Rhino Calf Born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
SAN DIEGO (Aug. 27, 2021) – A six-day-old female southern white rhino calf explored the Safari Park’s 60-acre African Savanna earlier this morning—running, playing and curiously getting close to Cape buffalo that share her habitat—all under the watchful eye of her protective mother. The calf, yet to be named, was born in the early hours of Aug. 22 to first-time mom Kianga, and father J Gregory.
“We are delighted to welcome this calf to the Safari Park’s crash of southern white rhinos,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Babies are always delightful—cute and fun to watch grow—but more importantly, they serve as ambassadors for their species. Seeing a rhino up close allows our guests to connect with them, with the hope they gain a greater appreciation for them, and the vitally important need to conserve and protect rhinos and their native habitats.”
Wildlife care specialists report the calf is healthy and nursing well—and Kianga is proving to be an excellent mother, who is very attentive to her offspring. Estimated to weigh around 125 pounds at birth, the little ungulate with big feet will nurse from her mother for up to 12 months; and she is expected to gain about 100 pounds a month for the first year. When full grown, at around 3 years of age, she could weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds.
Rhinos are very important to the ecosystems in which they reside. Southern white rhinos live in the savannas of Africa. These gentle giants are mega-herbivores, grazing on grasses—which helps maintain the diverse African grasslands, increasing plant diversity and providing grazing areas for other animals that share their natural habitat, such as elephants, zebras, antelope and gazelles.
There are an estimated 18,000 southern white rhinos remaining in Africa. The southern white rhino is classified as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, due to poaching threats and illegal trafficking of rhino horn. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has been working for more than 40 years, along with other accredited zoos, to keep a sustainable population of rhinos safe under human care while working to protect them in sanctuaries in their native habitats.
Kianga’s calf is the 104th southern white rhino calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park since 1972. The rhino calf and mom can best be seen roaming their habitat from the Park’s Africa Tram, a Wildlife Safari, a Balloon Safari or from the Park’s giraffe cam (showcasing a multitude of wildlife including rhinos, giraffes, Nile lechwe, African crowned cranes, gazelles and other species) viewable online at sdzsafaripark.org/giraffe-cam.