Zoo Atlanta announced a significant conservation milestone with the birth of the first southern white rhinoceros calf at the facility, born on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. This event marks a critical step in the efforts to preserve a species currently classified as “near threatened.”

The female calf, born to 22-year-old mother Kiazi and 12-year-old father Mumbles, is a symbol of hope for the species. Kiazi, an experienced mother, has previously given birth at another facility, while this is the first offspring for Mumbles. The zoo’s animal care and veterinary teams report that the calf is healthy, weighing in at a typical 100 to 150 pounds for newborns of one of the largest terrestrial mammal species.

“The birth of Kiazi’s calf is a joyous and significant event for Zoo Atlanta,” said Raymond B. King, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. "It highlights our ongoing commitment to rhino conservation."

This birth is the second rhino calf born at Zoo Atlanta in the organization’s 134-year history, following an eastern black rhino in 2013. The zoo’s rhino population was further expanded with the arrival of Dakari, a 17-year-old female, in October 2023, as part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) White Rhino Species Survival Plan® (SSP).

Southern white rhinos, the largest of the five rhino species, are particularly vulnerable to poaching for their horns, believed by some to have medicinal properties, despite being made of keratin, the same substance as human hair and nails.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.