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06-03-15-White-rhino-calf-born
Jun 03, 2015

African White Rhinoceros Born at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

The newest female offspring at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is not a princess, but she is receiving a royal welcome. A southern white rhinoceros was born May 21 to first time mother “Alake,” originally from the Phinda Reserve in Africa. The newborn marks the fourth successful southern white rhino birth and the seventh rhino born in the Zoo’s history(four African, three Asian).

TAMPA, Fla. (June 3, 2015) — The newest female offspring at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is not a princess, but she is receiving a royal welcome. A southern white rhinoceros was born May 21 to first time mother “Alake,” originally from the Phinda Reserve in Africa. The newborn marks the fourth successful southern white rhino birth and the seventh rhino born in the Zoo’s history(four African, three Asian).

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Rhino Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) which includes the southern white rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP), designed to support conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. The newborn introduces new DNA into the genetics of the managed population in North America.

The Zoo is currently home to a herd of five southern white rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, and the newborn. In keeping with a natural herd structure, Alake and calf have begun introductions to the other rhinos and Grevy’s zebras that share their habitat.

While the birth is welcome news for the managed population, record numbers of rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year. Despite increased protection efforts, the number of rhinos killed by poachers jumped 21 percent to 1,215. The current poaching crisis is driven by the growing demand for rhino horn in Southeast Asia where horn, made out of keratin --the same material found in human hair and nails --is believed to have medicinal properties.

The white rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, the most prominent in the front. Unlike Indian rhinos, white rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horns to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult white rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves estimated to weigh between 80-140 pounds.

In addition to conservation efforts with this species here at home, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has supported acquiring additional land to increase protected areas for rhinos in Africa, and anti-poaching programs and public education in Swaziland. Results to date include expansion of the Mkhaya Game Reserve by 10 percent, to promote survival of elephants, rhinos and thousands of other animals protected there. About 20,000 southern white rhinos are thought to exist in protected areas and private game reserves in South Africa.

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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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