Birth of White Rhino Stirs Hope for Saving Near-Extinct Species

Aug 29, 2022

A southern white rhino recently born at the San Diego Zoo gives scientists new hope for bringing back a nearly extinct species.

The currently unnamed male calf arrived August 6. He was born at the zoo’s Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. The proud mama and papa are Livia and J Gregory. The baby and his parents are one of two white rhino subspecies. 

The other subspecies of white rhino are the northern white rhino. Only two of them exist. They've been poached for their horns. The last two are females. So, they are unable to naturally reproduce. The last male died in March 2018. The surviving females live in Kenya. They're protected 24/7 by armed guards.

Scientists working at the San Diego Zoo hope to save the northern subspecies. They're hoping to impregnate females of the southern subspecies, such as Livia, by transferring embryos. 

Barbara Durrant of the zoo’s Wildlife Alliance told KGTV the new baby shows “Livia can carry a calf to term and care for her offspring.” She explained that Livia is now a potential candidate to serve as a surrogate mother to a northern white rhino embryo

Team members at the zoo’s Rescue Center hope to use their work with southern white rhinos as a model for helping other critically endangered species, such as the Sumatran and Javan rhinos. They’re well-resourced. The San Diego Zoo is home to the “Frozen Zoo,” the world’s largest collection of animal embryos.  

The new baby may be named in the next few weeks, in time for World Rhino Day on September 22.

Photo by Ken Bohn, Aug. 12, 2022 courtesy of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

Which of the following rhino species has only two rhinos remaining? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. southern white rhino
b. northern white rhino
c. Sumatran rhino
d. Javan rhino
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