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New Rhino Born In San Diego Key To Research Effort

Week-old rhino getting used to the surroundings at the San Diego Zoo Safari P...

Photo by Erik Anderson

Above: Week-old rhino getting used to the surroundings at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Nov. 27, 2019.

The rhino calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is curious, playful and energetic.

The youngster doesn’t stray far from mother Amani, but fledgling rhino loves to push around the stuff on the floor of the barn it calls home.

The 132-pound calf’s nourishment comes from mom’s milk and the youngster is expected to gain about 100 pounds a month.

“They will nurse and stay with mom up until about a year or year and a half, but just like typical kids or toddlers they will start mouthing solid foods,” said Keeper Jonnie Capiro.

Amani is a doting but relaxed mom.

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“For now, with these chilly temperatures, especially overnight, they’re spending a lot of time in the barn,” Capiro said. “We did get both of them out into the yard yesterday. And we saw some nice calm behaviors. We saw the calf running around and Amani feeling comfortable and confident just watching her calf run around.”

The calf is the first-ever conceived with chilled semen, and only the second in North America to be a product of artificial insemination.

Amani is one of six southern white females poised to help recover the critically endangered northern white rhino species.

There are only two living northern white rhinos and both are in Africa.

Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park want to eventually implant a northern white embryo into Amani and five other members of her herd.

“The first embryo transfers that we’ll do will be southern white rhino embryos into southern white rhino recipients,” said Barbara Durrant, San Diego Zoo reproductive physiologist. “Once we have developed that technique, embryo transfer has never been successful in rhino’s yet, anywhere. So once we have perfected that technique, by that time, in the lab we will have grown up some northern white rhino embryos and we’ll have those ready to transfer into these recipients.”

Eventually, this calf could also become a surrogate for the north white recovery effort. But right now, the focus is on making sure the calf plays and grows like a normal rhino.

Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

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Photo of Erik Anderson

Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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