BY Arwen Neski
Third Little Miracle
One small calf can make an enormous difference.
On August 6, a southern white rhino calf named Neville was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. With saucer-sized feet and wobbly little legs, this adorable calf is inspiring “awws” of excitement from fans around the world. Born to parents Livia and J. Gregory, Neville joins the “crash,” or herd, of southern white rhinos and is the third to be born at the Rhino Rescue Center—home to our global conservation effort for rhinos. Though he’s small, his birth is a big step forward in the conservation of endangered rhinos. Neville’s already growing quickly into this role—figuratively and literally.
Just 9 days after he was born, Neville weighed a whopping 148.5 pounds. He’s gaining 3 to 4 pounds a day on average, and will gain about 100 pounds a month in his first year! And his confidence is following a similar growth trajectory. When he’s not busy stealing our hearts, he’s charging after his mom wanting to play, wallowing in the mud, and doing all the things we hope to see a young rhino doing. At his smaller size, Neville can run circles around his mom—think rhino zoomies! With his abundance of energy and curiosity, there’s no doubt that Neville will be keeping Livia and our wildlife care specialists on their toes.
Livia is settling seamlessly into her new role as a mother, proving to be very attentive and protective of her calf. While this is the first time she’s given birth, Livia previously showcased her maternal instincts when she cared for an orphaned calf named Arthur. When Arthur arrived at the Rhino Rescue Center in 2020, Livia immediately took a keen interest, as a nurturing foster mom to Arthur. Her new bond with Neville is just as strong—and so heartwarming to see.
Neville’s name was chosen by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, but who shares “Neville Sacks was a very dear friend and an extraordinary doctor who practiced in South Africa and Los Angeles. Wishing our new little rhino will have a long, healthy, and impactful life, like my friend.” Much like his namesake, Neville is already making a difference.
Every rhino birth is important, and Neville’s arrival offers hope for rhino conservation in more ways than one. He’s an important addition to the global population of his threatened species, and offers hope for all five rhino species: two are native to the savannas of Africa, three are native to the swamps and rainforests of Asia—and all are threatened.
Habitat loss and demand for their iconic horns has led to plummeting rhino populations—even though their horns are made from keratin, the same material as your hair and fingernails. Most at risk is the northern white rhino. With only two left on Earth—a mother and daughter pair—they’ve been poached nearly to extinction. But with you by our side, we have a plan to save them—and Neville is a crucial step forward in that plan.
We’re combining groundbreaking conservation science, cutting-edge reproductive technologies, and more than a century of world-class wildlife care expertise through our Northern White Rhino Initiative. With a focus on assisted reproductive techniques and genetic rescue, our teams of conservation experts are working to save the critically endangered northern white rhino with the help of their southern cousins. Our hope is that one day, southern white rhinos like Livia can become surrogate mothers for northern white rhino calves.
With every birth and calf raised, we’re getting closer to making this dream a reality. Neville’s birth proves that Livia can carry a calf to term and care for her offspring successfully. His birth marks the third “little” miracle at the Rhino Rescue Center. In 2019, two southern white rhino calves—Edward and Future—were born through artificial insemination. They made history as the first and second southern white rhino births by artificial insemination in North America, and together with Neville, all three calves are vital steps forward on the journey to saving the northern white rhino.
The science is working, and as the herd at the Rhino Rescue Center grows, so does our hope for rhino conservation. These groundbreaking developments have the potential to save all rhino species, including critically endangered Sumatran and Javan rhinos. Together, with you by our side, we can save some of the planet’s most iconic and threatened wildlife.
Through your support, and with every visit to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, you’re saving, protecting, and caring for rhinos and other extraordinary wildlife—here in San Diego and around the globe. Join us in celebrating this special new arrival and the future you make possible for rhinos worldwide!