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May 16, 2013

Mother’s Day Came Early for Endangered Indian Rhinoceros at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

One day before her own birthday, and three days before Mother’s Day, an endangered Indian rhinoceros (also known as a greater one-horned rhinoceros) named “Jamie” gave birth to a male calf Thursday, May 9. The birth is the third for the Zoo in five years, and a significant conservation milestone for the species with fewer than 60 animals in the managed population.

Third Calf Named “Jiyu” Is Thriving In Mother’s Care

TAMPA, Fla. (May 16, 2013) — One day before her own birthday, and three days before Mother’s Day, an endangered Indian rhinoceros (also known as a greater one-horned rhinoceros) named “Jamie” gave birth to a male calf Thursday, May 9. The birth is the third for the Zoo in five years, and a significant conservation milestone for the species with fewer than 60 animals in the managed population.

The new addition has been given the Indian name “Jiyu,” meaning compassionate friend, by the Zoo’s Asian animal care team. Though he has not yet been weighed, calves normally weigh in the range of 75-100 pounds at birth. Mother and calf will spend time together off exhibit for the newborn’s safety and to encourage bonding.

“This calf represents our third successful offspring in support of the Indian rhino management program in North America,” noted Dr. Larry Killmar, vice president of animal science. “This tremendous achievement requires a great deal of hard work and dedication by the animal management staff.”

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Indian Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), designed to support the conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. Counting the new male calf, there are just 54 Indian rhinos in AZA-accredited institutions, with an estimated wild population of no more than 2,850.

Jamie’s first offspring, a female named “Jaya” born in 2009, now resides at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita and the second offspring, a male named “Jahi” born in 2011, now resides at Central Florida Zoo in Sanford. A male rhino named “Arjun” sired all three calves.

The greater one-horned rhinoceros is one of five species of rhinos worldwide and one of three species found in Asia. It is native to the remote, swampy grasslands of India, Assam and Nepal. Weighing several thousand pounds on average, the rhino’s most distinct feature is a single horn on the end of its muzzle (three species have two horns), which is composed of keratin – the same protein that forms human fingernails and hair. The species has a unique upper lip, known as a prehensile lip, which acts as a hook to grasp onto plants and food in its herbivore diet (grass, twigs, bamboo shoots, water hyacinths and various produce). Indian rhinos have been described with “armor-like skin” due to the presence of skin folds, however the skin is actually supple due to frequent wallowing in water and mud.

According to Save the Rhino International, an organization that works to conserve viable populations of critically endangered rhinos in Africa and Asia, drastic declines in population numbers have been fueled by the illegal rhino horn trade, habitat loss and political conflict over the past few decades. Poaching of rhino horn to produce ornaments and traditional medicine in China, Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia is the greatest threat facing rhinos today.

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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