Calf will be first southern white rhinoceros born at zoo in its 134-year history
Kiazi, a 21-year-old southern white rhinoceros at Zoo Atlanta, is expecting a calf. According to an organizational release,1 rhino gestation is among the longest in animals, at around 16 months. A birth is expected around December 2023, with the birth window expanding into February 2024. The pregnancy was confirmed by the Animal Care and Veterinary Teams using fecal hormone samples in spring 2023.1
The father is 12-year-old father Mumbles, and this marks his first offspring while this is not the first for Kiazi, who gave birth to 3 previous calves, one of them stillborn, at other accredited organizations. Kiazi, whose name is Swahili for “potato,” was recommended to breed with Mumbles by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums White Rhino Species Survival Plan.
“We are thrilled to announce Kiazi’s pregnancy and to be able to look forward to sharing the joy of watching a rhino calf grow with our members and guests,” stated Raymond B. King, president and CEO, in the release. “We also hope that the connections our visitors make with this youngster will also inspire conservation action and awareness of the urgent threats facing rhinos in the wild.”1
The largest of the 5 rhino species, white rhinos are not actually white. The name is believed to have originated with the Afrikaans word wyd, meaning “wide,” referencing to the shape of white rhinos’ upper lips.
Southern white rhinos are classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. All rhinos are poached for their horns, and southern white rhinos are particularly vulnerable because they often travel in herds in the wild so poachers can more easily find them.1 Powdered rhino horn is believed by some cultures to have medical properties, although rhino horns are made of keratin (the same substance found in human hair and fingernails) and have no known medicinal effects.
Kiazi the southern white rhino is expecting. News release. Zoo Atlanta. May 23, 2023. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://zooatlanta.org/press-release/kiazi-the-southern-white-rhino-is-expecting