Rhino Calf Born on Super Bowl Sunday

by Cody Mattox

Feb. 11, 2024

The Indianapolis Zoo Makes History as First-Ever White Rhino Calf is Born

Indianapolis has its own big winner to celebrate today with the arrival of a white rhinoceros calf born at 9:13 a.m. to 19-year-old mother Zenzele. This is the first live-birth rhinoceros calf for the Indianapolis Zoo and Zenzele’s seventh calf.

Rhinoceros care staff began overnight watches early this month when Zenzele started producing milk and showed physical signs of impending labor. “Zenzele is an experienced and confident mom and everything is going very well,” said senior rhinoceros keeper Amber Berndt. Both Zenzele and her calf are doing well, and keepers say Zenzele is relaxed and the calf is content.

“Our Life Sciences team has done a tremendous job. It is a privilege for our Zoo to care for these magnificent animals and advocate for their conservation,” said Dr. Robert Shumaker, Indianapolis Zoo President & CEO.

Zenzele’s calf brings the Zoo’s herd of rhinoceroses to five, including male Spike and females Mambo and Gloria, who is also Zenzele’s grandmother. Both mom and baby will spend time together indoors and will begin introductions with other members of the herd later this spring.

In the wild, rhinoceros populations are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. Four of the five remaining species of rhinoceroses are at risk of extinction, according to the International Rhino Foundation. White rhinos are categorized as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List status represents the likelihood of a species becoming extinct in the near future.

By visiting zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), guests are helping to save wild rhinos. AZA institutions support field conservation, research, habitat restoration, reduction in human-rhino conflicts and community-based initiatives to protect wild populations. Click here to learn more.

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Cody Mattox
Public Relations Specialist