White rhino with ‘rare genetics’ born at Virginia Zoo. See the ‘invaluable’ little calf

A rare rhino is making her debut at a zoo in Virginia, photos show.

Born to her mother Zina and her father Sibindi, a female baby southern white rhinoceros was welcomed at the Virginia Zoo after “#BabyWatch” came to an end, according to the zoo’s Nov. 14 Facebook post. The baby is the zoo’s second southern white rhinoceros to be born there, the zoo said.

Now the zoo’s crash — which is a group of rhinoceroses — is up to five animals, according to a Nov. 14 news release.

Weighing about 100 pounds, the baby rhino was examined in a neonatal exam and determined to be healthy by zoo staff, according to the release. The baby and her mother will stay in their “night barn” to make sure the pair stays healthy, the zoo said, but visitors can still catch glimpses of the two through the barn windows.

“Zina is an incredible mom and while she is still very protective of her calf, she is much calmer around the staff than she was with her first, which is a true testament to how hard the Africa team works to bond with the animals within their care,” Africa assistant curator Emily Spence said in the release.

Spence and the zoo’s staff cannot wait to see the calf’s personality come out “more and more each day,” she said.

Part of the celebration surrounding the baby — who has not been named yet by her keepers — is due to her “rare genetics,” according to the zoo’s release. The new calf, along with her sibling Mosi who was born in 2021, have “especially valuable” genetics due to their parents, and they are the first offspring with those genes to be found in an American zoo, the Virginia Zoo said.

Zina was born at the Singapore Zoo while Sibindi was born in South Africa, according to the zoo’s release. They are a “recommended breeding pair” by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ survival plan for white rhinos, which promotes genetic diversity in the species.

Southern white rhinoceros are considered to be near threatened, the zoo said, which is largely due to poachers killing them to sell their horns. Other rhinoceros species have gone extinct as a result of continued poaching, the zoo said.

The rhinoceroses are native to South Africa, but the species has been introduced to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Eswatini, according to the zoo.

“This baby is invaluable to the long-term survival of the species,” Virginia Zoo executive director Greg Bockheim said in the release. “And like her older brother, she could not be more adorable.”

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