CUMBERLAND, Ohio (WTVN) -- The herd at an eastern Ohio conservation park is a bit bigger this week. The Wilds welcomed a white rhinoceros calf on Tuesday, just two days after the birth of a male Masai giraffe on Sunday. Both calves are doing well under the watchful eyes of the Wilds animal care staff.
“Our staff is always anxious when we are expecting a new birth, but we did not have much to worry about this time,” said Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management at the Wilds. “Both of these females are experienced mothers and are taking good care of their new calves so we are cautiously optimistic they will continue to grow and thrive.”
The white rhinoceros calf, whose sex is still unknown, is a fourth-generation born in human care at the Wilds and third offspring for 9-year-old Zenzele, the first white rhinoceros born at the Wilds in 2004. The calf was born in pasture with the rest of the herd. Zenzele and her calf should be visible from any of the Wilds safari tours.
Rhino calves are born after a gestation of 16 months. White rhinos can grow to be 4,000 pounds and six feet tall at their shoulder. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands interspersed with grassy openings. White rhinos nearly faced extinction in the last century, and only survive today because of intensive conservation efforts. An increase in the number of rhinos killed by poachers once again threaten their numbers in the wild.
“The Wilds is one of the leading breeding facilities for the white rhino Species Survival Plan,” said Rick Dietz, Vice President of the Wilds, “and it is the only one producing fourth generation offspring. The wide open spaces at the Wilds allows our herd natural social behavior, and we think this an important part of our success.”
Just days before the rhino birth, 7-year-old Masai giraffe, Geraldine, gave birth to her second calf. The 5-6-foot-tall newborn is currently with Geraldine at the giraffe barn so the animal care team can keep a close eye on them.
Giraffe calves are born after a gestation of approximately 15 months. The mother gives birth standing up and the embryonic sack usually bursts when the baby falls to the ground. Within a few hours of birth, calves can stand and run on their own.
Males can grow to be 18-feet-tall weigh between 1,800 and 4,300 lbs. Females are between 13 and 15-feet-tall and weigh between 1,200 and 2,600 lbs. Giraffes are the tallest of all extant land-living animal species. Their natural habitats are savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands in central and southern African countries. Recent surveys suggest that wild giraffe populations have experienced a decline of nearly 30% in the past ten years due to habitat loss and poaching.
The white rhino and giraffe herds are not the only groups at the Wilds that have grown this year. Visitors have enjoyed watching a number of other young animals including a Bactrian camel, a Grevy’s zebra and a number of Sichuan takin, Bactrian deer, Pere David’s deer, Indochinese sika and scimitar-horned oryx.
(Photos courtesy The Wilds)