TAMPA, Fla. — Celebrations are taking place at ZooTampa at Lowry Park’s southern white rhinoceros’ habitat. Mother Alake gave birth to a calf on September 12, marking the sixth successful southern white rhino birth and ninth rhino in the Zoo’s history.
After bonding with mom, the calf will be introduced to the rest of the rhino herd. As the herd grows, animal care professionals continue to deliver high-quality care for the rhinos’ physical health and well-being.
“ZooTampa is deeply committed to the species’ continued survival, both at home and beyond. Every birth brings hope to the continued conservation of this incredible species,” said Chris Massaro, general curator at ZooTampa.
The Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Rhino Taxon Advisory Group (TAG), which includes the Southern White Rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP). Over the past 20 years, ZooTampa has contributed $100,000 to conservation projects, such as anti-poaching and habitat repair and restoration efforts in Africa.
The majority of southern white rhinos live in just four countries in Africa: Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Their unique body is characterized by a pronounced hump and two horns at the ends of its muzzle, used to defend against its predators and establish social dominance.
This birth is a welcome addition to the population of wildlife that rely on human care. Record numbers of rhinos have been killed by poachers due to the high demand for keratin, a protein found in rhino horn that is believed to have medicinal properties. The northern white rhino, a relative of the southern white rhino, have been considered extinct in the wild, with only two remaining in professional care.
This rhino birth continues the Zoo’s baby boom which last month saw the birth of a rare, endangered okapi. Guests may catch a glimpse of the adorable rhino calf on the Zoo’s safari tram ride, included with daily admission. To get an even closer look, guests can also add on a white rhino encounter starting at $10.
ZooTampa is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with extended hours for select events. Parking is free. For more, visit www.ZooTampa.org or call (813) 935-8552.