Public Relations

Public Relations

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Get Your Zoo News from ZOONOOZ

As Yun Zi discovered in 2010, a new location can deliver better views!

As Yun Zi discovered in 2010, a new location can deliver better views!

We’re excited to announce a new home for stories and updates about the animals and conservation work of San Diego Zoo Global: the ZOONOOZ website!  For the first time, the amazing stories, photos, and videos that have only been available via our printed magazine and app will be available to just about everyone. Anyone with a web browser—on any device—can enjoy the fun, interesting, and informative tales we share.

Blogs published in 2015 have been re-homed at the new location, and this site will continue to exist as an archive of past years’ stories and information.

The search function on the new site will help you find stories about the species you particularly enjoy reading about, but we encourage everyone to explore and scroll through the topic headings—you’re sure to discover some new favorites!

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Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Undergoes Procedure for Chronic Infection

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Nola’s procedure went well and she is eating and walking normally.

Nola, a critically endangered 41-year-old northern white rhinoceros who has been under medical care since early September, underwent a surgical procedure earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Veterinarians caring for the elderly Nola had performed multiple procedures and diagnostic tests over the past few months to pinpoint the source of a chronic draining tract near her right hip. A perirectal abscess—a large accumulation of infectious material in the tissues around the rectum—was identified deep to the animal’s pelvis using ultrasound, and was surgically drained earlier this morning.

“Using local anesthesia and a mild sedative, we were able to access the area of infection and establish drainage,” said Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “We hope this procedure will resolve the infection Nola has had for many months now, and she certainly should feel better in the days to come.”

To perform the procedure, Nola was walked into a protective chute inside a boma (corral) in her African Plains habitat. The protective chute allowed the veterinary team to perform the surgical procedure without having any unprotected contact with the gentle, but powerful 4,500-pound rhino, were she to move suddenly or try to walk away during the procedure. She was given mild sedation, allowing her to remain awake and standing for the procedure. Her primary keepers stayed with Nola the entire time, keeping her calm by rubbing her back, head and ears.

Immediately after the procedure, Nola was able to walk out of the chute into the boma, where she will remain for the next few weeks. Keepers will monitor her closely and attempt to keep the incision site clean. Nola appears to be feeling well, and she is eating and walking normally.

Nola is one of just four northern white rhinos remaining in the world. Three other northern white rhinos are under human care in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Northern white rhinos are at the brink of extinction due to poaching for their horn. San Diego Zoo Global is working to save the genome of this rhino subspecies through the collection of genetic material preserved in the Frozen Zoo® at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, where researchers also are working to develop and implement assisted reproductive technologies to save the northern white rhino.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

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Pygmy Hippo Born at San Diego Zoo

UPDATE: We regret to announce the death of Francesca’s pygmy hippo calf. Staff observed the mother caring for her calf, but a veterinary exam indicated that the newborn wasn’t receiving proper nourishment. This is an extremely difficult loss, please take a moment to share your sympathy.

An important addition to the population of the world’s smallest species of hippo was made at the San Diego Zoo on Wednesday morning (Nov. 11). The youngster, weighing just 12 pounds, 2 ounces (5.5 kilograms), was born to its mother, Francesca, in the early hours of the morning. Mom and calf are doing well—and they are taking some quiet time in a barn out of the public eye, until keepers think the youngster is ready to try the larger pool available for swimming in the main exhibit area.

A baby pygmy hippo nestles in straw, a day after birth at the San Diego Zoo.

This is the first surviving hippo birth at the San Diego Zoo in more than a decade. Pygmy hippos are an endangered species from the forests of West Africa. There were estimated to be about 2,000 left in the world a decade ago, when the last population survey was done. Since then, political unrest, habitat destruction and wildlife trafficking in their native habitats are likely to have reduced the wild population to critically low numbers.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the mission of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken Nov. 12, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Big Arrivals at San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Six Southern White Rhinos Arrive from South Africa as Part of Rhino Conservation Initiative

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Six female rhinos that arrived in San Diego will live at the Safari Park’s Rhino Rescue Center.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed some big arrivals Thursday evening (Nov. 5): Six southern white rhinos arrived via a chartered MD-11 flight from South Africa. The female rhinos, between four and seven years of age, were relocated to the Safari Park from private reserves in South Africa as part of a collaborative conservation effort to save the critically endangered northern white rhino—and all rhino species—from extinction.

A member of the Safari Park animal care staff flew to South Africa earlier this week to accompany the rhinos, along with a veterinarian from South Africa, on the 22-hour flight from Johannesburg to San Diego. The rhinos were transported in individual crates specially designed for the transport. Upon arrival in San Diego, the crates were loaded onto two flatbed trucks and driven to the Safari Park’s new Rhino Rescue Center, built specifically for the new arrivals. Once at the Park, a team of veterinarians and keepers unloaded the animals into fenced yards, where they will remain under a mandatory quarantine for at least 30 days.

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome these southern white rhinos to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and our new Rhino Rescue Center,” said Steve Metzler, interim associate curator of mammals, who accompanied the animals from South Africa to San Diego. “The animals did extremely well during the flight, eating normally and sleeping a good portion of the long trip. Our priority now is to ensure the rhinos are comfortable and acclimating to their new surroundings.”
San Diego Zoo Global has been working for decades, along with other accredited zoos, to keep a sustainable population of rhinos safe under human care while working to protect them in sanctuaries in the wild. To further this commitment, the Rhino Rescue Center was recently built to house the new southern white rhinos, establishing the Safari Park as a sanctuary to protect these rhinos—at a time when an average of three rhinos are killed each day in the wild by poachers.

Poaching of all rhino species has reached critically high numbers in recent years. A rhino is poached every eight hours in South Africa. Rhinos are poached for their horns, which are made of keratin, the same material as human fingernails. At the current rate of poaching, rhinos could become extinct in 15 years.

The northern white rhino is the most critically endangered rhino, with only four individuals remaining in the world. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is home to Nola, a 41-year-old female northern white rhino. Three other northern white rhinos (one male and two females) are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

The six female southern white rhinos will be a part of San Diego Zoo Global’s science-based rhino conservation efforts to save the northern white rhino. Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, along with collaborators, are developing reproductive techniques to develop northern white rhino embryos (from cells stored in the institute’s Frozen Zoo®) to be implanted in the southern white rhinos, which will serve as surrogate mothers. There are many challenges ahead, but researchers are optimistic a northern white rhino calf could be born from these processes within 10 to 15 years. These technologies may also be applied to other rhino species, including the critically endangered Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

San Diego Zoo Global has one of the most successful rhino breeding programs in the world. To date, a total of 94 southern white rhinos, 68 greater one-horned rhinos and 14 black rhinos have been born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

For more information on San Diego Zoo Global’s rhino conservation efforts, visit sandiegozoo.org/rhinos.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on November 5, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Fifty-Eight and Looking Great: San Diego Zoo Safari Park Celebrates Birthday of Matriarch Gorilla

The matriarch of the western lowland gorilla troop at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park snacks on an ice cupcake this morning, during a celebration to mark her 58th birthday. The Safari Park’s Nutrition Services department made an elaborate ice cake, but Vila (pronounced VEE-la) was more interested in the tiny treats of frozen fruit frosted with pureed banana and sweet potatoes. Vila is one of the world’s oldest-known gorillas, believed to have been born in October of 1957 in the Congo. She is the matriarch of five generations, and she has served as a surrogate mother for several hand-raised western lowland gorillas during her lifetime. Despite her advancing age, she is in excellent health and continues to thrive at the Safari Park. A crowd of guests and volunteers watched while Vila and the other seven gorillas at the Safari Park foraged for treats throughout their entire habitat, which included cardboard tubes made to look like ears of corn filled with broccoli, special plant cuttings, gift boxes and messages written in peanut butter on a mirror hung in a tree. Keepers also wrote birthday messages and drew festive pictures in chalk, on the rock walls of the habitat.

Vila snacked on an ice cupcake during a celebration to mark her 58th birthday.

One of the world’s oldest known gorillas celebrated her 58th birthday this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Vila (pronounced VEE-la) is believed to have been born in October of 1957 in the Congo. After arriving in the United States, Vila was hand-raised at the San Diego Zoo and then moved to the Safari Park, where she has lived since 1975. Vila is the matriarch of five generations, and she has served as a surrogate mother for several hand-raised western lowland gorillas during her lifetime.

The celebration for Vila and the seven other gorillas in her troop was big—the exhibit was filled with enrichment items ranging from a cardboard zebra to messages written in peanut butter, streamers and the Nutritional Services department’s signature ice cake. However, it was the smaller ice cupcakes that caught Vila’s eye upon entering the exhibit, and she stood on her legs and reached up to the top of a rock to get two of the tiny treats of frozen fruit, frosted with pureed banana and sweet potatoes. Another favorite food is popcorn and Vila worked to get every last piece from a narrow-necked bottle filled with the air-popped treat.

The enrichment items, which included several cardboard tubes made to look like ears of corn, were created by volunteers at the Safari Park and placed around the entire exhibit. The Nutritional Services department created the frozen treats and the Horticulture department provided special cuttings from plants for the party. Keeper staff was tasked with placing everything on exhibit and setting out the gorilla troop’s usual daily food. Keepers also wrote birthday messages and drew festive pictures in chalk, on the rock walls of the habitat.

Vila, despite being one of the oldest-known gorillas, is in excellent health and continues to thrive at the Safari Park. Keepers say that while she is slower than she used to be, she still plays with the young male gorillas, Frank and Monroe. She has had no recent health issues and is given a daily vitamin, medicine for arthritis and a baby aspirin, for preventive measure.

There are three other western lowland gorillas that are close in age to Vila. One lives at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio (born at the Columbus Zoo in December 1956), one at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas (estimated to have been born in 1957, and arrived in the US in June 1958) and one at the Berlin Zoo in Germany (estimated to have been born in 1957, and arrived at the Berlin Zoo in May 1959).

The Safari Park cares for eight western lowland gorillas—an adult male silverback, four adult females, two young males and one young female, who made international news when she was delivered via caesarean section in 2014.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on October 30, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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A Halloween Party Fit for a Grandma

San Diego Zoo’s oldest resident, 130-year-old Galapagos tortoise Grandma, celebrates Halloween with a pumpkin breakfast.

San Diego Zoo’s oldest resident, a 130-year-old   named Grandma, enjoyed a pumpkin breakfast.

The San Diego Zoo’s oldest residents, the Galápagos tortoises, proved age is nothing but a number this morning, as they celebrated the Halloween season with a yummy pumpkin breakfast. The senior citizens group—led by Grandma, the oldest member at approximately 130 years old—had a great time chomping down on delicious pumpkins, while animal care staff looked on.

Galápagos tortoises are the giants of the tortoise world, with males weighing more than 500 pounds and females weighing an average of 250 pounds. The San Diego Zoo currently has 13 of these supersize tortoises; nine of them arrived at the Zoo in 1928, and the other four joined the herd later. Animal care staff estimates all of the tortoises, with the exception of one, are over the age of 90, making them among some of the oldest animals on the planet. Staff members say their steady behavior and longevity makes them a favorite of Zoo guests.

“I can’t tell you how many people are absolutely amazed when they come to the exhibit,” said Jonny Carlson, San Diego Zoo reptile keeper. “They’re surprised at just how big or old the tortoises are, and that’s just something you can’t appreciate without seeing them in person.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Galápagos tortoise as a vulnerable species. Modern conservation efforts have helped increase population numbers after human hunting almost wiped out the species. Today, the tortoises face threats from nonnative species, such as rats, dogs and cats, which eat tortoise eggs and young tortoises. San Diego Zoo Global partners with the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galápagos Islands to help with breeding and to give the hatchlings a headstart by protecting them until they are old enough to survive on their own.

Zoo visitors can see Grandma and the other Galápagos tortoise seniors at Reptile Mesa in the Discovery Outpost area of the Zoo. Grandma is smaller than her roommates and tends to stay in one location, moving only when she feels it is necessary.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

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No Tricks, Just Treats for Komodo Dragon at the San Diego Zoo

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Ratu, a Komodo dragon, uses her tongue to “smell” where her treat awaits.

Animal care staff at the San Diego Zoo got into the Halloween spirit this morning, with carved pumpkins for the world’s largest lizard. There were no candles to light the jack-o’-lanterns, but keepers filled the gourds with trout and ground elk meat drizzled with fish blood, for a 4-year-old Komodo dragon. Ratu, which means “queen” in the Indonesian language, could see the orange gourds, but it was the action of flicking her tongue that allowed her to locate the meat, which is part of her daily diet. Putting her food inside the jack-o’-lanterns encourages the animal’s natural behavior of scavenging and foraging.

Komodo dragons are carnivores that detect odors by sending their long, yellow forked tongue to sample the air and then delivering it to the roof of the mouth, making contact with an auxiliary olfactory sense organ called the Jacobson’s organ. The chemical analyzers in that organ are able to “smell” airborne molecules—and if the concentration present on the left tongue tip is higher than that sampled from the right, the Komodo dragon will follow the stronger scent to the food.

The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world and is the apex, or top predator in its native range on Komodo, Rinca and Flores islands in Indonesia. They are known to scavenge from carcasses or stalk animals ranging in size from small rodents to large water buffalo. Komodo dragons can detect carrion from an estimated 2.5 miles away, and will actively seek it out. Its jaws, muscles and throat allow a Komodo dragon to swallow huge chunks of meat rapidly, while its stomach expands easily, enabling an adult to consume up to 80 percent of its own body weight in a single meal.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Komodo dragon population as vulnerable. Laws have been in place to protect the Komodo dragon since the 1930s, and international trade is prohibited by Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

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San Diego Zoo Safari Park Rhino Expert Visits Three of Earth’s Four Remaining Northern White Rhinos in Kenya

SafariParkBlogA team from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park visited three northern white rhinos living in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya last month. These three rhinos, a male and two females, along with a single elderly female living at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, are the last remaining northern white rhinos on the planet.

Although two of the rhinos at Ol Pejeta Conservancy are elderly, they appear to be in good condition. The encounter with the critically endangered rhinos was bittersweet for Randy Rieches, curator of mammals for the Safari Park and a board member of the International Rhino Foundation, who last saw these rhinos in the Czech Republic when a population of the species still existed in the wild.

“I was at the Dvur Kralove Zoo a week after the youngest, Fatu, was born,” said Rieches. “At the time, the population of northern white rhinos in the wild had stabilized, and Fatu’s birth seemed to be a hopeful sign.”

Northern white rhinos became extinct in the wild in 2008, due to intensified poaching. The team from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park visited the Kenya rhinos as part of an effort to begin collaborative efforts with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy to recover the species. Rieches spent time with each of the rhinos and their caretakers before meeting with the Conservancy’s chief executive officer, Richard Vigne, to discuss the possibility of future collaborations.

“Whilst the predicament of northern white rhinos is calamitous, we are excited to forge close ties with San Diego to try and save the species. San Diego (Zoo Global) has a rich and successful history in endangered species management and, between us and other collaborators, we hope that we can deploy cutting-edge science that will benefit not only the northern whites, but other species in the future,” said Richard Vigne.

Of the four northern white rhinos left in the world, one, Nola, lives at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Unfortunately, three of the remaining four rhinos are at an advanced age and no longer reproductive. However, genetic material from 12 northern white rhinos has been preserved in the Frozen Zoo® at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, for future reproductive opportunities.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy occupies approximately 139 square miles (360 square kilometers) of African savannah within the Laikipia District of Kenya and incorporates the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Laikipia carries large and growing wildlife populations and is home to almost 50 percent of Kenya’s black rhino population. Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to conserve wildlife, provide a sanctuary for great apes and generate income through wildlife tourism and complementary enterprise for reinvestment in conservation and community development.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Curious Wallaby Joey Leaves Mother’s Pouch to Explore the Outside World

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After more than half a year, this wallaby joey has emerged from its mother’s pouch to explore the outside world.

A seven-month-old Parma wallaby joey at the San Diego Zoo is now out of its mother’s pouch and is checking out its habitat for the first time. Animal care staff watched the youngster hop around the enclosure this morning, often moving away from mother and traveling around on its own. The baby — born in March — spent more than half a year in the pouch before leaving it just a few days ago.

This is the first joey born to four-year-old Tinka, who was hand-raised by Zoo staff. Keepers say Tinka has been a great mom, always making sure her pouch was clean; and she now stays close to her baby, in case it gets hungry. It’s unknown yet whether the joey is a boy or a girl, but animal care staff says they will confirm the gender when they weigh the joey, around its first birthday.

Parma wallabies are marsupials that are native to Australia and New Guinea, found in wet forests with dense undergrowth, near grassy areas. A close relative to kangaroos, these creatures are often mistaken for a smaller version of their popular cousins. There are brush, scrub, swamp, forest and rock wallabies, which gives some clue as to the vastly different habitats these creatures call home. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has named the Parma wallaby a “near threatened” species, with less than 10,000 mature individuals existing worldwide. The species faces a number of environmental threats, including wild dogs, foxes and feral cats, which are its top predators, as well as human development that has contributed to habitat loss.

Visitors can see the newly emerged joey, mother Tinka and their other wallaby friends in the San Diego Zoo’s Australian Outback exhibit.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on October 19, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

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Cute and Curious: Three-Day-Old Southern White Rhino Explores Habitat at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A three-day-old female southern white rhino calf bravely went horn-to-nub with her “auntie,” an adult female rhino named Utamu (pronounced O-ta-moo), earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A three-day-old female southern white rhino calf bravely went horn-to-nub with her “auntie,” an adult female rhino named Utamu (pronounced O-ta-moo), earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A female southern white rhino calf, born three days ago at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, bravely went nose-to-nose with an adult female rhino, scared off a curious Nile lechwe and explored her 60-acre East Africa habitat earlier today—all under the watchful eye of her protective mother.

The calf, named Kianga (pronounced Key-AN-ga), which means sunshine in Swahili, was born Oct. 13 to mom, Kacy, and father, Maoto (pronounced May-O-toe). This is the pair’s second calf. The first, a two-and-a-half year-old male named Kayode (pronounced Kay-O-dee), shares the habitat with his parents and baby sister—but mom isn’t letting brother, father, or any of the other rhinos in the crash too near her new offspring.

“Kacy is a very attentive and protective mother,” stated Tina Hunter, senior keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “She is fairly tolerant of the other rhinos being curious about the baby, but she is definitely keeping them at a distance. She is going to have her work cut out for her, as Kianga is rambunctious, has lots of energy and is a very curious little calf.”

Estimated to weigh around 120 pounds, the little ungulate with big feet will nurse from her mother for up to 12 months; she is expected to gain about 100 pounds a month for the first year. When full grown, at around three years of age, she could weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds.

There are an estimated 18,000 southern white rhinos remaining in the wild. The southern white rhino is classified as “near threatened,” due to poaching threats and illegal use of rhino horn. Currently, a rhino dies every eight hours in South Africa due to poaching. Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails. Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures. In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare.

Kianga is the 94th southern white rhino calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The rhino calf and mom can best be seen roaming their habitat from the Park’s Africa Tram Safari or a Caravan Safari.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Oct. 16 , 2016, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291