Southern White Rhino Calf Conceived Through Artificial Insemination Born at San Diego Zoo

The mother was artificially inseminated in March 2018, and carried the calf for 493 days

southern white rhino calf
Photo: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo has a brand new addition!

A male southern white rhino calf was born at the zoo on Sunday — the first rhino born at conservation organization San Diego Zoo Global after artificial insemination.

According to a press release from the zoo, Victoria, the calf’s mother, was artificially inseminated with frozen semen from a male southern white rhino in March 2018 and carried the calf for 493 days before giving birth.

The zoo reports that Victoria and her calf, named Edward, are now bonding in a quiet setting, and both mother and son are doing well. A second release explains that Edward is “very brave and curious” but “never ventures far from his mother’s side.”

“All of us at San Diego Zoo Global are elated with the arrival of this special rhino calf,” said Dr. Barbara Durrant, the Henshaw Endowed Director of Reproductive Sciences at the zoo.

“We are so pleased Victoria and the calf are doing well,” Durrant continued. “She is very attentive to her baby, and the calf is up and walking, and nursing frequently. Not only are we thankful for a healthy calf, but this birth is significant, as it also represents a critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction.”

southern white rhino calf
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

According to the press release, the birth was also the first successful artificial insemination birth of a southern white rhino in North America.

The zoo notes that the birth was a “critical step” in the organization’s mission to “genetically recover” the northern white rhino, a subspecies of the southern white rhino. According to the zoo, only two northern white rhinos remain on the planet, and both are female.

The press release reports that researchers are optimistic that a northern white rhino calf could be born through various processes including artificial insemination within the next 10 to 20 years.

southern white rhino calf

Sunday’s birth marks the 99th southern white rhino born at the zoo’s Safari Park, according to the release.

In order to let the pair bond, Victoria and Edward won’t be on view to the public for an undisclosed period of time.

The southern white rhino is listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Red List of Threatened Species. The zoo reports that there are about 18,000 remaining in the wild, but they are at risk due to poaching and the illegal trafficking of rhino horn.

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