The male calf was born on July 11.
The Virginia Zoo has welcomed a baby White Rhino into the herd. The male calf, who was born last week to mother Zina and father Sibindi, is the first rhino to be born at the zoo. He now makes up the zoo's fourth rhino, joining his parents and 7-year-old Bora.
Zina gave birth on July 11 after a 16-month gestation period. The bouncing baby boy was in good health upon birth, weighing 125 pounds, with a 22-inch height and 36-inch length. Preparations for the birth included check-ups, bloodwork, and a diet plan, along with installing a baby monitor into the habitat. As of Monday, mother and son are adapting peacefully to their indoor habitat, where staff will keep them for observation.
The animal care team expressed excitement at the rhino's birth, which signifies hope towards broader goals of animal conservation for a vulnerable species.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome this baby, who will serve as an ambassador to its species in the wild,” the zoo's Executive Director Greg Bockheim said in a statement.
Due to issues surrounding habitat loss and illegal poaching, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies them as a threatened species. The International Rhino Foundation shows that only 18,000 currently exist in the wild, with their northern counterpart considered functionally extinct.
"A baby animal’s cuteness piques the interest of everyone, but then we are able to share their conservation story and the ways we can protect their species," Bockheim said.
The baby has yet to receive a name, but that's because the zoo is letting the public decide! To shake things up, a fundraiser will be held from July 19 through July 30 allowing guests to place a bid on the baby's name or symbolically adopt the animal through their Zoodoption program. Proceeds help benefit the zoo's conservation work and name the baby in the process, so it's a win-win for wildlife!
If you'd like to participate, auction details can be found at virginiazoo.org/babyrhino. Bidding ends at 5 p.m.
**Photos courtesy of Virginia Zoo's website
Are you excited about the new baby rhino? What should he be named? Drop your ideas in the comments.