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San Diego Zoo welcomes male baby rhino, celebrates breeding initiative

Gregory Sweeney/Getty Images

(SAN DIEGO) -- The San Diego Zoo has welcomed a small but mighty addition to its safari park. A baby male white rhino was born Aug. 6 to two of the zoo's adult rhinos, according to zoo officials.

The calf, staying at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center at the zoo, was born through natural breeding to first-time mother Livia and father J Gregory, the zoo said.

Wildlife care specialists at the center said the baby rhino, which has yet to be named, "is healthy, confident and full of energy," according to a statement from the zoo.

"Livia is an excellent mother, very attentive and protective of her offspring," the zoo added.

"We are so pleased Livia and her calf are doing so well," Jonnie Capiro, lead wildlife care specialist, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, told San Diego ABC affiliate KGTV. "Seeing this energetic little rhino running around, wallowing in the mud and just being generally curious is very rewarding."

Capiro added that while this is the first time Livia has given birth, specialists aren't surprised she is a great mother.

Prior to giving birth, Livia cared for an orphaned rhino named Arthur, who came to the center at the San Diego Zoo in 2020, zoo officials said. Specialists told KGTV that experience helped Livia become a very attentive and protective mother to her new baby.

Zoo officials are especially pleased by the new calf's birth because of the success it brings for the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's Northern White Rhino Initiative.

The initiative is dedicated to saving the northern white rhino through innovative reproductive technologies, including artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, according to a statement from zoo officials.

Officials said an interdisciplinary team at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center is working with southern white rhinos as a model to better develop its technologies.

The ultimate goal for the team, made up of wildlife care and health teams, reproductive physiologists and geneticists, is to establish a sustainable population of northern white rhinos.

"All rhino births are significant, and this calf's birth represents an essential step in San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's Northern White Rhino Initiative, showing Livia can carry a calf to term and care for her offspring," Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told KGTV.

Durrant added that Livia is now among the female rhinos at the rhino center who could potentially serve as a surrogate mother to a northern white rhino embryo.

The calf will remain in a private habitat with its mother to allow for bonding time before the pair is introduced to other rhinos at the center, officials said.

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