Guests will soon see a new face charging around Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo’s Southern white rhinoceros habitat.
TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 22, 2016) – Guests will soon see a new face charging around Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo’s Southern white rhinoceros habitat. Mother “Kidogo” gave birth to a female calf on Sept. 12, marking the fifth successful southern white rhino birth and the eighth rhino born in the Zoo’s history (five African, three Asian). The calf’s weight is estimated somewhere between 80-100 pounds, but she has the potential to reach up to 4500 at full size.
After bonding with mom, the calf will be introduced to the rest of the herd, which includes an adult male, two adult females and “Ahadi” - a young female born at the Zoo last year. She will also be introduced to the Grevy’s zebras that share their habitat. Both species are grazers, meaning they eat the same food sources and are often seen sharing grazing space in the wild.
“This feisty calf makes a great addition to the already thriving herd we have here at the Zoo,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, Chief Zoological Officer for Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “We hope guests are as excited as we are to get to know the calf and learn more about our herd as well as the species overall. And there is no better time to make this announcement than today, on World Rhino Day.”
While not developed yet, the calf will eventually grow two horns at the ends of its muzzle – the most prominent being in the front. The horns are naturally used to defend against predators and establish social dominance, but they also make the species a target for escalating international poaching efforts. According to the International Rhino Foundation, a rhino is killed for its horn every eight hours, and rhinos could become extinct in the wild in the next 15 years. But zoos like Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo have been working both at home and abroad to raise awareness and halt the demand for products created with rhino horn.
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 public education in Swaziland. Results to date include expansion of the country’s Mkhaya Game Reserve by 10 percent to promote survival of rhinos and thousands of other animals protected there. The Zoo has also supported anti-poaching programs, and Swaziland can boast that in the past 20 years, there have only been three reported incidents of rhino poaching.
Alongside public education, the Zoo also 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. She will also serve as an ambassador, helping guests learn, connect and care about the species.
To learn more about the Zoo’s rhino programs, visit our website or stop by to meet the newest calf in person! If you’re looking for an excuse to see the mom/calf pair, this Thursday, Sept. 22 marks World Rhino Day.