SOUTHERN WHITE RHINO BORN AT ZOO ATLANTA
Special Christmas Eve delivery is the first southern white rhinoceros ever born at Zoo Atlanta
ATLANTA – December 25, 2023 – Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to announce that Kiazi the southern white rhinoceros gave birth to a calf on December 24, 2023. The newborn is the first southern white rhino ever born at Zoo Atlanta.
The calf appears to be healthy and strong, and Kiazi is providing appropriate maternal care, according to the Animal Care and Veterinary Teams, who continue to monitor the pair closely. Kiazi, 22, has experience as a mother, having given birth to two previous living offspring at another organization prior to moving to Zoo Atlanta. Mother and calf will have an opportunity to continue to bond behind the scenes before entering the rhino habitat.
Just as white rhino pregnancies are among the animal kingdom’s longest, averaging anywhere between 16 months and 18 months, white rhino newborns are also among the animal kingdom’s largest terrestrial mammal babies, weighing 100 to 150 pounds at birth.
The calf is the first offspring for 12-year-old father Mumbles, who first met Kiazi in early 2022 following her late 2021 arrival from another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited organization. The pair was recommended to breed by the AZA White Rhino Species Survival Plan® (SSP). Zoo Atlanta is an active partner in many SSPs, which seek to maintain healthy, genetically diverse, and self-sustaining animal populations in professional human care.
“The Zoo Atlanta family is beyond excited about the birth of Kiazi’s calf. This birth has been long-awaited news for many months. We have had many exciting developments in our rhino population over the past year,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “If there is a special connection that our Members and guests can make with Kiazi and her calf, this is a connection that can translate to conservation action. All rhino species are currently in peril, and as stewards of this brand-new ambassador here in Atlanta, we also have a responsibility to do all we can to raise awareness of the status of wild rhinos.”
The Animal Care and Veterinary Teams have monitored Kiazi via voluntary ultrasounds since detecting her pregnancy in spring 2023. Only one other rhino calf, an eastern black rhino born in 2013, has been born at the Zoo in the organization’s 134-year history.
Zoo Atlanta’s rhino population received another member in October 2023 with the arrival of a second female, 17-year-old Dakari, also as part of a recommendation from the White Rhino SSP. The females and the calf will be introduced to Mumbles sometime in 2024.
Southern white rhinos, which are the largest of the five rhino species, are not actually white, despite their name. The moniker 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 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 medical properties, although rhino horns are made of keratin – the same substance found in human hair and fingernails – and have no known medicinal value.
Stay tuned for updates on the calf and Kiazi, and plan a visit at zooatlanta.org.