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Birth of White Rhino at The Wilds

COLUMBUS, Oct. 2021: There’s more cause for excitement at The Wilds—the team is celebrating the recent birth of a southern white rhinoceros!

The female calf was born during the morning hours of October 5, 2021, to mother, Anan. The Animal Management team notes that Anan and her daughter are both doing well. The calf, who is currently unnamed, appears to be strong and is nursing alongside her mother.

Anan, who was born at The Wilds in 2009, is an experienced mom. This little one is Anan’s fourth calf and the third calf that father, Kengele, has sired. Kengele was born at the San Diego Safari Park in 1998 and has been living at The Wilds since 2012.


The conservation center is notable for many reasons, mainly for being the only facility outside of Africa with rhinos born four and five generations removed from their wild-born ancestors. This most recent calf is the 26th white rhino to be born at The Wilds throughout its history. This calf’s grandmother, Zenzele, was the first rhino born at The Wilds back in 2004. Zenzele’s daughter, Anan, was the first fourth-generation birth at The Wilds, and her most recent calf now marks the seventh fifth-generation calf born at the facility.

The pairings of Anan and Kengele was recommended through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The SSP program is designed to maintain a sustainable population and genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species in human care. The recent birth brings the total number of rhinos in The Wilds’ southern white rhino herd to 16 (four males and 12 females).

The Wilds has also welcomed the births of nine Asian one-horned rhinos since 2005. The most recent Asian one-horned rhino calf, a female, was welcomed into The Wilds’ family on August 16, 2021. The Wilds is home to five greater one-horned rhinos and is one of only 19 AZA-accredited facilities in North America to care for this species.

The white rhino population had dwindled to an estimated 50 to 200 individuals at the beginning of the 20th century. However, through conservation efforts, the population of white rhinos in their native range in Africa has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. Even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

All five remaining rhino species in Africa and Asia (white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, greater one-horned rhinoceros, Javan rhinoceros and Sumatran rhinoceros) are killed by poachers who sell rhino horn for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation estimates that one rhino is killed every 10 hours for its horn.

To further protect the future of rhinos, The Wilds and Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, which manages The Wilds, have provided more than $218,000 over the last five years to support conservation projects benefiting rhinos in their native ranges.

The Columbus Zoo and The Wilds currently support three rhino field projects through the International Rhino Foundation, National Trust for Nature Conservation, and Akagera National Park (Akagera Management Company). The International Rhino Foundation’s project supports law enforcement, translocations, and community development to benefit the greater one-horned rhino in India, while the National Trust for Nature Conservation’s project supports the conservation of the greater one-horned rhino through rhino monitoring, veterinary support, and a community awareness program in Chitwan National Park.

Additionally, the Akagera National Park project supports a reintroduction effort, including providing uniforms and rations for rhino patrol units, to help the eastern black rhino in Akagera National Park in Rwanda. The Columbus Zoo is also active in the AZA's Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program for black rhinos.

Recently, The Wilds announced it will now be serving in another important role as the operations base of a new initiative. The Wilds has teamed up with the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and four other partner research facilities to form the American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS)—a model for saving species with science ex situ (which means off site or outside natural habitat).

The AIRS operations will be located at The Wilds and include an operations manager and an intern to collect data. This new initiative was made possible by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The team, which includes collaborators from Disneys Animal Kingdom®, George Mason University, the South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation, and Stellenbosch University, South Africa, will focus on the high priority research needs of rhinos in zoos that the AZA Rhinoceros Research Council identified in 2019. These priorities are:

1) physical fitness and its relation to health

2) iron storage in browsing rhinos

3) reproductive success

4) behavioral and environmental factors that maximize rhino well-being

Over three years, the scientists will conduct research within each pillar on overlapping subjects and examine the effect across all pillars. Data collected from all studies will be compiled in a centralized database accessible to all AIRS members. Ultimately, AIRS will provide affordable and feasible management recommendations to veterinarians and animal care staff at the 74 AZA-accredited facilities caring for rhinos.

For more information or to schedule a tour, please visit TheWilds.org and follow The Wilds’ social media accounts on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.




Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/02/21 19:32:06 -0800.





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