White rhino born at the San Diego Zoo

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A female southern white rhino calf was born last week at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The calf, named Kianga (pronounced Key-AN-ga), which means sunshine in Swahili, was born Oct. 13 to mom, Kacy, and father, Maoto (pronounced May-O-toe).

This is the pair’s second calf.

The first, a two-and-a-half year-old male named Kayode (pronounced Kay-O-dee), shares the habitat with his parents and baby sister—but mom isn’t letting brother, father, or any of the other rhinos in the crash too near her new offspring.

“Kacy is a very attentive and protective mother,” stated Tina Hunter, senior keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

“She is fairly tolerant of the other rhinos being curious about the baby, but she is definitely keeping them at a distance. She is going to have her work cut out for her, as Kianga is rambunctious, has lots of energy and is a very curious little calf.”

Estimated to weigh around 120 pounds, the little ungulate with big feet will nurse from her mother for up to 12 months; she is expected to gain about 100 pounds a month for the first year.

When full grown, at around three years of age, she could weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. 

There are an estimated 18,000 southern white rhinos remaining in the wild.

The southern white rhino is classified as “near threatened,” due to poaching threats and illegal use of rhino horn.

Currently, a rhino dies every eight hours in South Africa due to poaching.

Rhinos are poached for their horn, which is made of keratin—the same material that forms human fingernails.

Rhino horn has been erroneously thought to have medicinal value and is used in traditional remedies in some Asian cultures.

In addition, objects made of rhino horn have more recently become a “status symbol,” purchased to display someone’s success and wealth, because the rhino is now so rare.

Kianga is the 94th southern white rhino calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.