TAMPA, Fla- — ZooTampa announced the addition of a baby southern white rhino to their family.
Zoo officials say the calf was born overnight on Sunday, June 6, 2021. The female calf and her mom, 20 -year-old Alake are doing just fine. The zoo says Alake is an experienced mother.
"The baby rhino appears to be strong and is nursing alongside her mother. This birth marks the 8th southern white rhino calf born at ZooTampa."-ZooTampa
Alake was paired with male Ongava through a program called the Species Survival Plans (SSP) run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The program is intended to ensure the survival of protected species.
“These babies and the rest of our southern white rhino herd are wonderful ambassadors for their species, giving our guests the opportunity to connect with and appreciate these magnificent animals,” said Dr. Larry Killmar, chief zoological officer. “The Zoo’s efforts to save this species is yet another example of the leadership role that ZooTampa plays in conserving important species both at home and around the world.”
The baby rhino still hasn't been named and is expected to join the “crash” – the term for a group of rhinos –in the coming weeks.
Guests will be able to see the baby aboard the new Expedition Wild Africa which is scheduled to open soon.
According to the zoo, the southern white rhino population had dwindled to an estimated 50-200 individuals at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of white rhinos in their native range in Africa has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, the species remains classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to threats in the wild due to habitat loss and illegal poaching for their horns.