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The first southern white rhino calf ever born at Zoo Atlanta has a name! Rhino Naming Madness concluded on April 10, 2024, with the name Zuri rising to the top after four rounds of public voting following the launch of a Sweet Sixteen Bracket on March 20.

Zuri, a name of Swahili origin which can mean “beautiful,” was one of more than 4,000 online submissions entered between March 7 and March 10, when the public was invited to suggest names to compete with nine monikers provided by the Zoo’s Rhino Care Team. Zoo Atlanta’s naming committee selected seven names from the pool of public submissions to form the Sweet Sixteen.

A special Christmas Eve holiday delivery born on December 24, 2023, the 3-month-old calf, who now weighs more than 330 pounds, has recently begun making more frequent appearances with her mother, Kiazi, in the Zoo’s Delta Air Lines Rhino Habitat. Zuri has not yet met her first-time father Mumbles.

The largest of the five rhino species, southern white rhinos are not actually white in color, despite their name. The name is believed to have originated with the Afrikaans word wyd, meaning “wide” – a reference to the shape of white rhinos’ upper lips.

The species is currently classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While poaching for their horns is a serious issue for all rhinos and has already resulted in the extinctions and near-extinctions of some rhino species, southern white rhinos are especially vulnerable because they often travel in herds in the wild, a behavior that makes it easier for poachers to locate them. Powdered rhino horn is believed by some cultures to possess medicinal properties, although rhino horns are made of keratin – the same substance found in human hair and fingernails – and have no known medicinal value.

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