Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed a healthy white rhino to the family last week with the addition of a female calf born Sunday, Jan. 17. Kendi, an 11-year-old white rhino, gave birth to her third baby after a 16-month gestation period. The baby, which has not yet been named, is the eighth white rhino born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; her mother, Kendi, was the first.
“A rhino birth is considered to be a significant event since the species was once nearly extinct and is currently endangered,” according to Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney’s Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives. “Under protection and careful management, this species has grown to approximately 11,000 worldwide, with 190 residing in North American zoos.”
During her first weigh-in on Jan. 22, the newborn weighed 178 pounds. The calf and mother are currently off the savannah bonding at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but will return to the herd in the coming months.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom participates in a white rhino breeding program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The program focuses on sustaining the white rhino population in North America. Many older rhinos in the population have not bred and it is important for the long term survival of the North American population for this species to continue to reproduce.
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the success of the rhino breeding program has enabled team members to make a direct contribution to the conservation of white rhinos in the wild. In 2006, Nande and Hasani, two rhinos born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, traveled to Africa to join four others at Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda, reestablishing a white rhino population there that had been extinct since the 1980s. Last year, Nande gave birth to the first white rhino born in Uganda in 27 years.
Walt Disney World’s commitment to conservation and rhinos goes beyond rhino breeding. The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has supported more than $250,000 in rhino protection and research projects in partnership with non-profit organizations throughout the world. For more information on the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund visit www.disney.com/conservation
White rhino fun facts:
- White rhinos have no incisors or canine teeth and use their square lips to graze or browse large areas of grassland.
- White rhinos are named not for their color, which is gray, but for the shape of their mouths. The word “weit” in Afrikaans means wide.