Christmas came early on Thursday for the Rolling Hills Zoo family with the birth of the Zoo’s first southern white rhino calf.
According to the zoo, the calf and mom Evey, are doing well and bonding as animal care staff monitors the pair from a distance. The sex of the calf not been confirmed at this time.
Evey had been part of a 15 member white rhino herd (or “crash”) at The Wilds Safari Park and Conservation Center at Cumberland, Ohio prior to her arrival at RHZ. Since she had been with males within the herd, RHZ staff were hopeful that she was pregnant when she arrived in October 2020 and have been monitoring her pregnancy ever since. White rhino gestation can last 16 to 18 months.
“The Rolling Hills Zoo staff and I are over the moon for Evey and the first baby rhino birth at the Zoo,” shared Ryan VanZant, RHZ Executive Director. “This a truly wonderful gift right before the holidays.”
Born at The Wilds Safari Park and Conservation Center, Evey was named for her birth date – December 31st. She will turn fifteen at the end of the month. While her parents have moved to other zoos as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), Evey remained at The Wilds Safari Park as part of their white rhino herd which is managed as one large social group, and the only rhinos that were not born there are two adult breeding males. Evey made the move to Rolling Hills Zoo on a breeding recommendation by the SSP of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), of which Rolling Hills Zoo is an accredited member.
Evey is an experienced mother, successfully giving birth to three offspring: Jaycambo, a male born in 2011; Agnes, a female born in 2014; and Gordon, a male born in 2017, and has been a great mother to all three. While Jaycambo is no longer at The Wilds, Agnes and Gordon have remained as part of the herd.
At this time the rhino barn is closed for public viewing. The Zoo asks for the public’s patience and understanding as they allow time for the mother and calf to bond. For now, animal care staff are entering the building as necessary and the pair is being monitored via cameras.
The white rhino, the second largest land mammal after the elephant, is a major conservation success story after having been brought back from the very brink of extinction. But the current surge in poaching for their horns, particularly in South Africa, has seen record numbers killed in recent years and urgent efforts are now underway to stop the poaching and end the illegal trade. In Africa today, more than 20,000 southern white rhinos now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as near threatened.
Photos via Rolling Hills Zoo