San Diego Zoo Safari Park Welcomes Birth of Southern White Rhino Calf at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center
SAN DIEGO (Aug. 22, 2022) —The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has announced the birth of a male southern white rhino calf, born at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. The calf was conceived through natural breeding and was born on Aug. 6 to first-time mom Livia, and father J Gregory. Wildlife care specialists report the calf is healthy, confident and full of energy, and that Livia is an excellent mother, very attentive and protective to her offspring.
“We are so pleased Livia and her calf are doing so well,” said Jonnie Capiro, lead wildlife care specialist, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. ”Seeing this energetic little rhino running around, wallowing in the mud and just being generally curious is very rewarding.” Capiro added, “While this is the first time Livia has given birth, we expected she would be a great mother—and she proves this every day.” Livia had prior experience in caring for an orphaned calf named Arthur. Arthur arrived at the Rhino Rescue Center in 2020, and Livia immediately took a keen interest in the calf, showing strong maternal instincts and being very nurturing to the youngster.
“All rhino births are significant, and this calf’s birth represents an essential step in San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Northern White Rhino Initiative, showing Livia can carry a calf to term and care for her offspring,” said Barbara Durrant, Ph.D., director of reproductive sciences, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “This is vitally important, as Livia is now among the female rhinos at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center who could potentially serve in the future as a surrogate mother to a northern white embryo.”
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Northern White Rhino Initiative is dedicated to saving the northern white rhino through innovative reproductive technologies, including artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer. At the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, an interdisciplinary team—including wildlife care and health teams, reproductive physiologists and geneticists—are working with southern white rhinos as a model for developing these advanced reproductive technologies, with the ultimate goal to establish a sustainable population of northern white rhinos using banked genetic material from the Frozen Zoo®, a critical component of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Biodiversity Banking efforts.
Only two northern white rhinos remain on earth, residing at a wildlife conservancy in Kenya. Both are females and unable to reproduce naturally. The work being done to conserve the northern white rhino may also be applied to other rhino species, including critically endangered Sumatran and Javan rhinos.
Livia and her calf will remain in their private habitat for a period of time while they continue to bond. The calf will eventually be introduced to the other rhinos living at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center—including five other adult females, one adult male, two-year-old Arthur, and Edward and Future, both born at the Rhino Rescue Center in 2019 following hormone-induced ovulation and artificial insemination.
An estimated 18,000 southern white rhinos remain in native habitats worldwide. The southern white rhino is classified as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, due to poaching threats and illegal trafficking of rhino horn. Currently, it is estimated a rhino dies every eight hours in South Africa, due to poaching. Every time a guest visits the Safari Park or San Diego Zoo, purchases an item or shares knowledge about wildlife and conservation, they help San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance take another step in achieving its mission of saving rhinos and other wildlife and plants worldwide.
The Safari Park is celebrating its 50th anniversary—50 years of wildlife conservation and connecting people to wildlife, all while creating life-changing moments. Guests visiting the Safari Park may be able to see one or more of the southern white rhinos living at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, or rhinos in expansive savanna habitats, from the Africa Tram. Those looking for a unique experience may want to participate in a special visit to the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center and meet the rhinos on the Mission: Rhino Rescue Behind-the-Scenes Safari, or see rhinos on a Wildlife Safari or Cart Safari. Visit sdzsafaripark.org for more information.