Lion Country Safari welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf to its herd recently, the third calf born at the park in less than a year. She is a significant contribution to the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan, a national collaboration to save the imperiled species from extinction. Both the calf and mom are spending quality time bonding together in a maternity area and will be visible to guests from their cars in the drive-through safari.
The baby is the first offspring born to 7-year-old mom Blossom and she is the 39th rhino calf to be born at the park since 1979. Blossom’s family line is considered underrepresented in the population; each offspring’s genes are important to the overall diversity and health of the population under human care and to the conservation of the species.
Rhino mothers give birth to a single calf weighing between 88 and 132 pounds (40-60 kg). The calf is expected to gain 3-4 pounds (1-2kg) a day from her mother’s milk and will gain about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) a year for the first three years. Baby rhinos nurse for almost two years.
Of the five species of rhinos (White, Black, Indian, Sumatran and Javan), the white rhino is the most numerous, but all 5 species are in peril due mostly to poaching. During the 1970s, this species was teetering on the edge of extinction with less than 1,000 individuals left on the planet. Today, thanks to multi-national collaborative breeding and protection efforts, there are an estimated 20,000 white rhinos and each new birth contributes to their continued conservation.
Lion Country Safari is home to 16 White Rhinos – 12 females and 4 males – and is a proud participant of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Lion Country Safari is also a proud participant in the American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS) research program, which aims to optimize rhino care to ensure healthy populations under human care that can act as a safety net from extinction.
For more info, visit Lion Country Safari on their page.