A southern white rhinoceros born Oct. 9 is the newest baby at Lowry Park Zoo.
TAMPA - A southern white rhinoceros was born overnight on Oct. 9 at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa to experienced mother “Kidogo.”
The newest offspring marks the third successful southern white rhino birth and the sixth rhino born in the Zoo’s history (three African, three Asian). The newest male calf has been named “Khari” (K-har-E), an African name meaning “king like.”
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Rhino Taxon Advisory Group, which includes the southern white rhino Species Survival Plan, designed to support conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction.
The Zoo is currently home to a herd of seven southern white rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, the second-born juvenile rhino “Kande,” and the newborn. Because white rhinos live in herds, Kidogo and Khari have begun introductions to the other rhinos and the Grevy’s zebras that share the outdoor exhibit.
Native to eastern and southern Africa, the southern white rhinoceros species was recently reclassified to “threatened” status by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to increased poaching over the past two years. In 2012 in South Africa, 668 rhinos were killed by poachers, and it is estimated that as many as 1,000 rhinos could be lost this year.
Rhino poaching has reached a crisis point; at such rates, rhino deaths could overtake wild births in 2016-2018. The current poaching crisis is attributed to 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 wrongly 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 horn 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 100-140 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 elephants 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.
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 located at 1101 W. Sligh Ave. 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. Parking is free. Visit LowryParkZoo.com or call 813-935-8552 for information.