Rhino Calf at Safari Park Begins Integrating with His Crash

10-week-old Edward Meets a Rhino Other Than His Mother for the First Time 

Edward, a 10-week-old southern white rhino calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, experienced another “first” today (Oct. 9, 2019) when he physically met a rhino other than his mother for the first time. The young calf and his mother were given access to the main exhibit yard along with Helene, an adult female southern white rhino that resides at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. Mom Victoria was extremely protective of Edward, sparring with Helene for some time before she allowed the other female to approach her baby. 

“The introduction of Edward to Helene went really well,” said Jonnie Capiro, lead keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Victoria definitely showed her protective nature by sparring, a typical rhino behavior, with Helene. Victoria put her head down, going horn to horn with Helene and backing her away. Eventually, she realized there was no threat to her baby, so she allowed Helene to approach him. Edward was his brave self, boldly running up to Helene, knowing mom had his back if he needed any help.” 

Victoria and Edward have been separated from the other rhinos that live at the Rhino Rescue Center since his birth on July 28, allowing the pair ample time to bond and for Edward to gain stamina and bulk. Edward was 148 pounds at birth and now weighs a healthy 473 pounds. From time to time, the pair have been able to see the other rhinos, but they have not been in the same physical space. “While Victoria knows the other rhinos, Edward has only observed them from a distance,” said Capiro. “It’s time to get Edward acclimated to his crash (the term used to describe a group of rhinos). We chose to have Helene meet him first, as she is closely bonded with Victoria.” The animal care team will gradually introduce the calf to the other rhinos at the Rhino Rescue Center—including Amani, who is due to give birth to a calf in early November. 

The successful birth of Edward was the conservation organization’s first rhino born following hormone-induced ovulation and artificial insemination. Artificial insemination of rhinos has rarely been attempted, and this is the first successful artificial insemination birth of a southern white rhino in North America. The artificial insemination and successful birth of this rhino calf represents a critical step in the organization’s ongoing work to develop the scientific knowledge required to genetically recover the northern white rhino, a distant subspecies of the southern white rhino. Only two northern white rhinos currently remain on Earth and, unfortunately, both are female. 

On any given day, visitors to the Safari Park may be able to see Edward and his mother from the Africa Tram, as their keepers rotate them, along with the other seven southern white rhinos residing at the Rhino Rescue Center, from the back area to the front exhibit yard. During the month of October, children 11 and younger receive free admission to both the Safari Park or San Diego Zoo during Kids Free Month presented by Mission Fed. 

For more information on San Diego Zoo Global’s rhino conservation efforts, visit sandiegozoo.org/rhinos