First-Ever White Rhino Calf Born at the Virginia Zoo
The Virginia Zoo is proud to announce the historic birth of its first-ever Southern white rhinoceros, born to mom, Zina, and dad, Sibindi, on Sunday, July 11, 2021. Animal care staff report the calf is strong, nursing well and is bonding with Mom.
A neonatal exam was performed 36 hours after the calf was born by the Zoo’s Veterinarian, Dr. Tara Reilly, with the assistance of Keepers and Veterinary Technicians. The exam confirmed the calf is a male, weighed in at approximately 125 pounds and stands 22 inches tall and 36 inches long. This is a historic event for the Zoo as this calf is the first of its species to be born at the Virginia Zoo, but also for first-time mom, Zina. From the moment she gave birth, she has shown signs of good mothering instincts and has been very attentive to her calf.
This brings the rhino count to four at the Zoo. Sibindi, 18, Zina, 8, Bora, 7, and now the new male calf. Zina and her calf can be seen in the rhino’s night barn. Mom and baby will stay indoors for Keepers to monitor the two and their bond over the next several weeks. Sibindi and Bora will have access to both the barn and their outdoor habitat. This species remains classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN) due to threats in the wild due to habitat loss and illegal poaching of their horns. Zina was paired with Sibindi through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to ensure the survival of these protected species.
Name the Zoo’s Rhino!
The Zoo is looking to the public for a name and is auctioning the naming rights of the baby rhino. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Zoo’s conservation partner, the International Rhino Foundation, which provides support for land protection, the translocation of rhinos to more suitable habitats in Africa, and work being done to end the trade in rhino horns.
Bidding starts at $500, with a Buy It Now option of $20,000 for this priceless opportunity!
The naming auction begins Monday, July 19, 2021, at 9 am and ends at 5 pm on July 30, 2021. The calf name must be provided by August 4, 2021.
Become a Zoo Parent!
Symbolically adopt our new baby calf! You can become a “Zoo Parent” with a rhino Zoodoption for just $50. Proceeds will benefit the Zoo’s conservation partner, the International Rhino Foundation, which provides support for land protection, the translocation of rhinos to more suitable habitats in Africa, and work being done to end the trade in rhino horns.
With a Zoodoption, you will receive:
- Name recognition on Zoo Parent Donor signage and in Zoo Review magazine
- Personalized adoption certificate
- Keeper notes about White rhinos
- 4″x6″ photo of the baby rhino with a Virginia Zoo magnetic frame
- 8” Rhino Plush
More about the baby!
- The calf’s father is Sibindi, he has fathered other calves at his previous institution.
- The gestation period for a rhino is 16-18 months, so Zina’s Zoo Keepers and the entire Animal Care Team have been anticipating this birth for several months. Her pregnancy was 16 months and 21 days.
- Calves are weaned at about two and a half years but may remain with the mother up for two to three years until the next calf is born.
- Rhinos are considered grown when they are five to seven years, for females, and seven to ten years, for males.
- The baby’s horns — which are made of keratin, not bone — will begin growing in a few months, but it will take years before they look full-grown.
- Rhinos are not born with teeth, they typically start to erupt at 22-42 days. Adult teeth begin to appear at 3-4 years of age.
- Mom and baby will stay indoors for Keepers to monitor the two and their bond over the next several weeks. Sibindi and Bora will have access to both the barn and their outdoor habitat.
- The Zoo had covered the windows overlooking the rhinos to give mom and baby some privacy and time for the to acclimate to each other and the new surroundings.