DES MOINES, Iowa (Feb 7, 2019) – Blank Park Zoo officials are announcing today that Ayana the eastern black rhino is pregnant and expecting a calf. This will be her second calf.
The due date is approximately February 25 based on the gestation of 451 days of her first calf.
“We are extremely pleased that Ayana and Kiano are a compatible pair of rhinos and they are contributing to the survival of this critically endangered species,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo. "The reason Blank Park Zoo participates in the rhino Species Survival Plan (SSP) is to ensure a population of eastern black rhinos remain for future generations with the hopes that they may be reintroduced to wild areas when conditions are safe and able to sustain a healthy rhino population."
Zoo officials are encouraged that the pregnancy is going well so far. The positive signs of her pregnancy include fetal movement, weight gain, hormone monitoring, ultrasound findings, and the fact Ayana has been a great mother while raising her first calf.
Tumani, a female calf was born on October 11, 2016 weighed 80 pounds at birth and nearly 1,000 pounds on her first birthday. She now weighs over 1,600 pounds. She is still living at Blank Park Zoo, but may eventually move to another zoo to participate in the SSP breeding program. Blank Park Zoo’s rhino facility opened in 2013 was designed to hold four rhinos.
Eastern black rhinos are critically endangered with approximately 800 individuals that remain in natural habitats. Rhinos are poached for their horns and that is a primary cause for their decline.
About Black Rhinoceros (source: International Rhino Foundation, www.rhinos.org)
The black rhinoceros has two horns, with the front one being the larger of the two. They can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and be 5.5 feet tall at shoulder height and up to 12.5 feet long if you include the head and body. The black rhino has a prehensile lip that is well-suited for grasping branches, leaves and shrubs. This is the species’ most distinguishing characteristic. The black rhino lives in Africa, primarily in grasslands, savannahs and tropical bush lands. Female rhinos reach maturity at four to seven years of age while males reach maturity at seven to ten years. The term ‘black rhino’ is believed to come about because of the color of the soil the rhino covers itself with while wallowing in the mud. Unlike the white rhino, black rhinos are only semi-social and do not live in herds. Between 1970 and 1992, the wild population of this species has decreased by 96 percent. Rhinos are poached for their horns which are falsely perceived to have medicinal value in some cultures.
The black rhinoceros has been named one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums SAFE species. Learn more here: https://www.aza.org/SAFE-black-rhino
About Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo, Iowa’s WILDEST Adventure, is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., daily. Admission rates are $14 for adults, $8 for children under 12, and $11 for seniors and active military. Children two years and under and Blank Park Zoo members are free. The Zoo is located at 7401 SW 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. Visit the Zoo online at http://www.blankparkzoo.com. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) The AZA is America’s leading accrediting organization that sets rigorous, professional standards for zoos and aquariums. The AZA is building North America's largest wildlife conservation movement by engaging and inspiring the 143 million annual visitors to its member institutions and their communities to care about and take action to help protect wildlife.