published January, 9, 2024
The Indianapolis Zoo anticipates the arrival of its first-ever rhinoceros calf in February. The mother is 19-year-old white rhinoceros Zenzele. Rhinoceros pregnancies last around 16 months. This will be Zenzele’s seventh calf.
Zenzele came to the Indianapolis Zoo in early June from The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio through a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. This cooperative program guides AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to manage threatened and endangered species to ensure sustainable and genetically diverse populations. The calf’s father is Kengele, a male white rhino who currently lives at The Wilds. Male rhinoceroses naturally live in smaller ‘bachelor herds,’ mingling with female herds for mating. Rhinoceros generally give birth every two to three years.
“The number of white rhinoceroses in the wild continue to decline, and it is crucial to raise awareness for their plight,” said Dr. Robert Shumaker, Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO. “The historic birth of this calf will be a symbol of hope for the conservation of rhinoceroses around the world.”
Zenzele’s calf will bring the Zoo’s herd of rhinoceroses to five, including male Spike and females Mambo and Gloria, who is also Zenzele’s grandmother. Both Zenzele and her calf are in good health. As with any pregnancy, complications are possible. The Zoo team is optimistic and looks forward to sharing updates.
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. White rhinoceroses are the least threatened of the five rhinoceros species. Zenzele’s pregnancy raises awareness of conservation efforts to save rhinoceroses in the wild.
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. To learn more, go to www.indianapoliszoo.com/exhibits/plains/white-rhinoceros/.
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