‘Go, Zumi, go!’ Kansas City Zoo announces name of baby rhino from endangered species

The Kansas City Zoo

The Kansas City Zoo’s newest addition officially has a name.

After tallying 14,421 votes from the public, the zoo announced Monday that the baby eastern black rhinoceros born on New Year’s Eve will be named Zumi.

Last week, the zoo announced a naming contest, giving the community a chance to choose what the calf should be called. Voters could choose between five options, including Eve, Kiara, Mandazi, Azura and Zumi.

Zoo officials said the name Zumi came about because the baby’s mother Zuri gets the “zoomies.”

“This high-spirited girl must have heard the news,” the zoo wrote on Facebook, “because she is living up to her name with some very impressive zoomies. Go, Zumi, go!”

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Ahead of Valentine’s Day, the zoo also announced a special baby rhino package through its Adopt a Wild Child program.

Community members can symbolically adopt Zumi and receive a rhino plushie, two zoo tickets good throughout 2023, an official adoption certificate, an animal fact sheet and a framed photo of Zumi. The package costs $75 and is available for a limited time. Proceeds will help fund the care of over 1,700 animals at the zoo, including Zuri and Zumi, the zoo said.

The new calf is part of a critically endangered species.

About 740 eastern black rhinos are left in the wild in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The baby is also one of just over 50 eastern black rhinos in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, according to a news release from zoo officials.

The zoo’s conservation fund works with programs in Africa that aim to reduce poaching — the largest threat to rhinos in the wild.

Zoo officials said on Facebook that the baby is nursing, sampling some foods with her mom’s help and exploring her surroundings. She has also been walking and playing with her mom. In a news release, officials said Zuri and Zumi are staying in the rhino barn, where the new family can bond with limited human interaction.

When the zoo announced Zuri’s pregnancy in July in her third trimester, it said the calf would likely weigh between 75 and 100 pounds. The gestation period for rhinos lasts between 15 and 16 months.

“Throughout her pregnancy, Zuri received weekly ultrasounds and blood hormone monitoring,” according to the release. “Zuri’s animal care specialists trained with her in preparation for the regular checkups, so she was able to participate in her own care by patiently standing for the ultrasounds.”

In spring 2018, Zuri and the calf’s father Ruka were moved to Kansas City from the Oregon Zoo on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

Zuri, 15, was born at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Ruka, 11, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo.

For now, zoo officials say Zumi will live at the Kansas City Zoo. Ultimately, the Associations of Zoos & Aquariums will decide where she’ll stay.