DES MOINES, Iowa (Nov. 3, 2016) Officials from Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo have announced that the general public will be able to see the rhino calf for the first time beginning on Friday, November 4 (tomorrow).
“The interest in seeing the rhino calf has been extraordinary,” said Mark Vukovich, CEO of Blank Park Zoo. “Both mom and calf are doing well and we are now in a situation where the general public will be able to see the calf daily.”
Vukovich noted that the calf does take naps during the day in an area outside of public view so Zoo visitors may have to visit the rhino building several times during a Zoo visit to see the baby. The Zoo has set up a “Nap Cam” so that visitors will be able to watch the calf while it rests.
Also, Vukovich noted that every visit to Blank Park Zoo helps save wild rhinos because a portion of each admission fee is donated to rhino conservation efforts. Zoo visitors will also learn how they can help save rhinos through other efforts as well.
As far as naming efforts are concerned, beginning on #GivingTuesday (November 29) through December 31 every donor to the non-profit Blank Park Zoo who gives at least $50 will be allowed to suggest a name for the female rhino calf. The final name will be announced in early January. More information on all the rules will be available on www.blankparkzoo.com before the promotion begins.
Vukovich noted that the baby is able to go on exhibit earlier than expected due to Ayana taking proper care of the calf and the hard work of zookeepers to prepare Ayana and the calf for visitors.
“There are less than 1,000 eastern black rhinos left and we want our visitors to learn about how endangered they are and inspire people to save them from extinction,” said Vukovich.
The female rhino calf was born on October 11, 2016 and weighed 80 lbs. at birth. It has already gained 50 lbs. and now weighs 130 lbs.
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 10 SAFE species. Learn more here: https://www.aza.org/SAFE-black-rhino