Eight-week-old Southern White Rhino Calf at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Experiences a “First”

Calf and Mom Explore New Area of Their Habitat for the First Time

Future, an 8-week-old female southern white rhino calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, experienced a “first” today (Jan. 17, 2020) when she was able to explore an area new to her at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center with her mother, Amani. The young calf and her mom were given access to the main exhibit yard, and the curious little calf ran in spurts around the habitat while mom enjoyed a breakfast of hay. The pair spent some time exploring and running, before Future wore herself out and needed a nap.

It was mom and calf’s first day out of the maternity yard and other off-exhibit areas since the calf was born Nov. 21, 2019. Keepers waited to provide access to the larger habitat to the calf and her mother, partly because of the chilly winter temperatures and rainy weather, but also because they wanted Future to gain stamina and bulk, to be able to keep up with mom in the larger space.

The little rhino weighed 132 pounds at birth and weighed in at 368 pounds today. Future is San Diego Zoo Global’s 100th southern white rhino born at the Safari Park, and she is only the second calf in North America to be born following hormone-induced ovulation and artificial insemination. Her name celebrates these monumental milestones—and the hope she brings to the future of rhino conservation worldwide.

 Her birth by artificial insemination 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 one or more of the southern white rhinos living at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center—including Future and Amani—from the Africa Tram. Future will eventually be introduced to the other rhinos living at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, including her potential playmate, 4-month-old Edward—the first calf born at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, and the first in North America conceived through artificial insemination.

The public can help support San Diego Zoo Global’s rhino conservation efforts through the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy, at EndExtinction.org.