ZOO ATLANTA WELCOMES DAKARI THE SOUTHERN WHITE RHINO
16-year-old female will become the newest member of the herd in the Zoo’s rhino complex
ATLANTA – October 13, 2023 – Zoo Atlanta is very pleased to welcome Dakari, a 17-year old female southern white rhinoceros. Dakari arrived in Atlanta on October 13, 2023, from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Her move was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) White Rhino Species Survival Plan® (SSP).
Dakari will ultimately meet Mumbles, the 12-year-old male southern white rhino at Zoo Atlanta, and 21-year old female Kiazi. Zoo Atlanta announced in May 2023 that Kiazi, who arrived at the Zoo in 2021 on another recommendation from the White Rhino SSP, is expecting a calf between December 2023 and February 2024. The birth would make Mumbles a first-time father.
Zoo Atlanta is an active member of many SSPs, which are collaborative programs working to ensure self-sustaining, genetically diverse animal populations in AZA zoos.
“We are delighted to welcome Dakari to Zoo Atlanta, as a new companion for Mumbles and Kiazi and hopefully also as a future contributor to the population of southern white rhinos in human care,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “Dakari, Mumbles, and Kiazi have a very important conservation message to share. In getting to know and appreciate them, we hope our Members and guests will get a better understanding of the everyday actions they can do in their daily lives to preserve future generations of these incredible animals in the wild.”
Unlike other rhino species, which are more solitary in nature, white rhinos are known to travel and associate in groups in the wild. The largest of the five remaining rhino species, they are not actually white. The moniker “white rhino” is instead believed to have originated with the Afrikaans word wyd, meaning “wide” – a reference to the shape of white rhinos’ upper lips.
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 occur in herds, making 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.
Dakari will have an opportunity to become acclimated to her new home before being introduced to Mumbles and Kiazi and before exploring the outdoor habitat of the Zoo’s rhino complex, which was redesigned for rhinos with the opening of the African Savanna in 2019.
Stay tuned for updates on when visitors will be able to see Dakari, and learn more about the Zoo’s animals, mission, and programs at zooatlanta.org.
(photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park)