Southern White Rhino Calf Being Hand Raised at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Meets New “Friends”

Five-month-old Arthur Interacts with His Crash at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center

Arthur, a 5-month-old southern white rhino calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, made some new friends (Jan. 15, 2021) when he met Edward, an 18-month-old male southern white rhino calf; Future, a 14-month-old year old female southern white rhino calf; and their mothers, Victoria and Amani.

Arthur, who resides at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, had previously been introduced to Livia, Nikita, Helene and Wallis — four of the six adult females at the Rhino Rescue Center. Livia and Nikita immediately took a keen interest in the calf, showing strong maternal instincts, being very nurturing and protective of the youngster. Arthur has formed a strong bond with the four adults. Arthur had seen Edward, Future and their mothers, but this meeting was the first day that all nine rhinos physically shared the same space.

“The introductions went very well,” said Jonnie Capiro, lead wildlife care specialist at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, at the Safari Park. “Since Arthur is being hand raised, it is very important for him to learn natural rhino behaviors and become socialized and integrated with the rhinos here at the Rescue Center. His interactions today were a success.”

While Victoria and Amani were accepting of the calf, Future and Edward initially showed little interest in him. Eventually, Future’s curiosity led her to approach Arthur, sniffing him and following him around, coming face-to-face with him several times. At one point, Edward joined the pair; but he appeared to prefer eating and resting instead of playing.

Arthur was born on Aug. 2, 2021 to mother Kiazi, in the Safari Park’s African Savanna habitat. Kiazi is an experienced mother with a history of strong maternal care; but due to some complications from the birth, it was determined she could not provide proper care for her calf, and the decision was made to intervene for his safety and well-being. While it is always preferred for the mother to raise her calf, sometimes human intervention is the only way for the calf to thrive. The Safari Park’s veterinarians and wildlife care specialists have a long history with rhino births and neonatal care, providing a strong foundation of knowledge to care for Arthur.

Wildlife care specialists from the Safari Park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center have bottle-fed Arthur since birth, and will continue to bottle-feed him until he is weaned at approximately a year and a half of age.

All of the rhinos at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center, except for Arthur, are part of San Diego Zoo Global’s efforts to save the northern white rhino from extinction. Edward and Future are the only two southern white rhino calves in North America to be born following hormone-induced ovulation and artificial insemination. Their births represent a critical step in the conservation 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.

As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to over 1 billion people annually, reaching 150 countries via social media, our websites and the San Diego Zoo Kids network, in children’s hospitals in 12 countries. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible with support from our incredible donors committed to saving species from the brink of extinction.