TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — ZooTampa welcomed a baby rhino into the world earlier this week, and he is too cute!
The zoo announced that their 19-year-old southern white rhino, Kidogo, gave birth to a male calf Tuesday evening. The baby rhino has been nursing alongside his “experienced mother” and appears to be strong, the zoo said Thursday.
Kidogo was paired with male and first-time dad Mufasa, making the calf’s birth a special delivery!
“We are excited to welcome another healthy calf,” Chris Massaro, Senior VP, Zoological Operations, said in a statement. “Kidogo did great with the birth of her sixth baby, and she is being very attentive. The birth is also special for first-time dad, Mufasa. The calf is a critical step in our continued effort to save the imperiled species from extinction.”
According to ZooTampa, Kidogo was paired with Mufasa as part of the Species Survival Plan, which is overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the survival of protected, threatened, and endangered species.
ZooTampa is home to seven rhinos: male Mufasa, females Kidogo, Alake, Fugo; and jueveniles Ruby, Kayin and the new male calf. The zoo hasn’t announced a name for him just yet.
Rhinos are the second-largest mammal after elephants and are pregnant for 16 to 18 months. They also only give birth every two to five years!
At full maturity, a southern white rhino will have two horns, grow 12 to 13 feet long and up to 6 feet from hoof to shoulder, and weigh 4,000 to 5,000 pounds, ZooTampa said. They can also live for 40 to 50 years and run at impressive speeds of up to 30 miles an hour!
Not only is the calf’s birth exciting for the zoo, but for the whole southern white rhino population.
According to the zoo, at the beginning of the 20th century, this rhino species was hunted to near extinction for their horns, which some erroneously believe provide medicinal benefits. Rhino horn is constructed from keratin, the same material that makes up human fingernails and hair.
There are currently around 16,803 southern white rhinos left in the wild across 11 countries in Africa.