Virginia Zoo announces historic birth of its first-ever Southern White Rhino

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The Virginia Zoo has welcomed the birth of its first ever Southern White Rhinoceros.

The new addition to the zoo in Norfolk was born on 11 July to mother Zina, 11, and father Sibindi, 18. The birth was said to be successful and that mother and baby are bonding well.

The male rhino was born weighing in at 125 lbs and measuring 22 inches in height, with a 36-inch body. Along with being the first of his kind born at the zoo, he is also the first offspring for his mother Zina, who is said to be taking to motherhood well.

A typical rhino pregnancy is expected to last between 16 and 18 months. Zina’s lasted 16 months and 21 days, so the staff at Virginia Zoo had months to prepare for the new arrival.

In a statement from the zoo, Dr Tara Reilly said, “The pregnancy was confirmed via ultrasound in February. We were able to give some general time frames, but this last month became very apparent we were in the birth window.”

Greg Bockheim, the executive director of the zoo, said the birth was a great way to get people’s attention on the dangers faced by rhinos and other animals face in the wild from poaching or other exploits.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome this baby, who will serve as an ambassador to its species in the wild,” he said in the statement. “Because of the demand for their horns, rhinos are often killed daily. 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.”

WWF classifies white rhinos as “near threatened” due to poaching. They were given an “endangered” classification, however a resurgence took place after years of conservation efforts. Other species of rhinos are “critically endangered”, such as Northern Rhinos. It is believed there are only two of those left in the wild.

The Virginia Zoo will keep mother and baby inside the barn so the zookeepers can keep an eye on them, while the other two will be allowed to roam in and out. All four of them will be able to be seen by visitors.

Naming rights are intended to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. All proceeds will go to rhino conservation efforts carried out by the International Rhino Foundation.

You can place your bids here.

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