New Baby White Rhino at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Florida Guide > Animal Kingdom

There was cause for celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in May, 2012, when Kendi, a 13 year old white rhino, gave birth to her fourth calf, after a 16 month pregnancy. The birth of a live rhino baby is a very significant event as the species very nearly became extinct, and is currently still endangered. Due to being protected, and as the result of careful management, the number of rhinos worldwide has grown to around 11, 000, with 190 living in US zoos.

This new baby weighed in at 178 lbs, and for the first few weeks he was living with his mother, off savannah, to encourage the pair to bond. However, he will eventually join the rest of the herd, at which time guests will be able to observe the two of them in their natural surroundings.

White rhinos are not actually white but a greyish colour. Their name comes from the Afrikaans word for wide, ‘weit’, which describes its mouth. It is one of the largest land mammals in the world, second only to the elephant. An adult male rhino can weigh more than 5, 000lbs, and it has the widest set of nostrils of any land based animal. The white rhino greatly relies on its sense of smell, despite having ears which can move independently to pick up sounds. The receptors responsible for its sense of smell are larger than the animal’s entire brain. It feeds mainly on grass, and has no incisors or canine teeth, using its wide square lips to graze large areas of grassland. They are powerful and dangerous creatures, and can ward off any predator except humans. It has a massive body, a large head, a short neck and a broad chest.

The white rhino has two horn-like growths on its snout, one behind the other. These are made of solid keratin, rather than bone. The front horn is the larger of the two, and can measure between 35-59 inches, 90-150 cm. It has three toes on each of its four stumpy feet, and a noticeable lump on the back of its neck. The only hair to be found on a white rhino is on its ear and as tail bristles.

Disney takes the breeding of white rhinos very seriously, and Animal Kingdom participates in a white rhino breeding programme coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This programme focuses on sustaining the white rhino population in North America.

In 2006, two rhinos, Nande and Hasani, born at Animal Kingdom were sent to the Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda, to join four others to help re-establish a white rhino population there. Nande has already sired two white rhino babies. A male calf was born in 2009, and a female calf followed in 2011.

If you visit Animal Kingdom, do look out for this new baby rhino.
Rita Fraser

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