The Traveler's Journal  
Press Releases - The Traveler's Journal

Informative Press Releases for Travel

Press Release information you can use!


The following information is provided by the travel supplier or its public relations representative. The Traveler's Journal can accept no responsibility for the accuracy or validity of any material in this section.

White Rhino Calves Born at the Wilds


Add to Only Group of Known Third-Generation White Rhinos Born in North America


CUMBERLAND, Ohio (Nov. 20, 2008) – Two male southern white rhinos were recently born at the Wilds, making a total of six of this threatened species born at the conservation center in Southeast Ohio, and the only third generation of white rhinos born in managed herds on record in North America.


The Wilds is unique in that we are the only known facility in North America where third-generation white rhinos are being born,” said Dr. Evan Blumer, Executive Director of the Wilds.


“The combination of our expansive habitat that allows for natural social behavior in our herd, along with a carefully developed and managed breeding program, has contributed to this success,” he added.


Of the recent births, one calf was born Oct. 22 and the other was born Nov. 9.


“The rhino calves’ mothers and both of the babies are doing fine,” said Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management at the Wilds. “They will spend the winter inside our Rhino Management Center, and will be moved into our open pastures in the spring.”


“With a gestational period of 16 months, it’s safe to say we’ve been waiting patiently all year for these births,” said Dr. Barbara Wolfe, Director of Wildlife & Conservation Medicine at the Wilds. “Female white rhinos usually reach sexual maturity at the age of 6 to 7 years, and mothers give birth to one calf every two to three years, so these factors add to a relatively long birth cycle.”


Southern white, or African rhinos were almost extinct in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Effective conservation efforts in the 1950s led to the exportation of individual wild white rhinos to managed captivity in North America and Europe.


Institutions that kept these white rhinos in herds experienced a higher breeding success than where the rhinos were kept only in pairs.


“There has been an historical challenge with reproduction of first- and second-generation females born in a managed environment,” said Beetem. “As a result, we’re interested in learning more about how the social dynamics of living in wide-open spaces is a factor in their breeding success.”


At the Wilds, a herd of female southern white rhinos, along with their offspring and one breeder male, live and roam freely on nearly two hundred acres of open-range habitat. Another breeder male is kept at the Wilds’ Rhino Management Center and rotated seasonally with the female herd in pasture.


The white rhino herd at the Wilds is part of a study by Lara Metrione, a Ph. D. student at Ohio State University, who is looking at both social and environmental characteristics of various managed rhino herds to determine differentiating factors contributing to successful reproduction.


The Wilds continues to be a leader in conservation efforts for managed and wild rhino populations. Dr. Blumer is a long-standing and active member of the International Rhino Foundation Board of Directors, and has served as the chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Rhino Taxon Advisory Group.


The southern white (African) rhinoceros is classified as near threatened by the World Conservation Union, or IUCN, and is part of a Species Survival Plan (SSP) coordinated by the AZA. The Wilds participates in the SSP program in partnership with 44 other facilities.


The mission of an SSP is to help ensure the survival of selected wildlife species through organized managed breeding programs, cooperation between institutions, applied research, public awareness, and species reintroduction into secure natural habitats.


“Based on our successful and growing rhino breeding program, we recently exchanged a male white rhino with one from the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas,” said Beetem. “We do this as part of the SSP and to maintain genetic diversity in the herds.”


White rhinos can grow to be 6,000 pounds and 6 feet tall at their shoulder, and can live up to 50 years in captivity. Their natural habitats are plains or woodlands interspersed with grassy openings. Through reintroduction efforts, their current range in the wild is in southern and eastern African countries.


Their marking characteristics are two pointed horns and a wide mouth suitable for grazing. The name white rhinoceros originated from the Afrikaans word describing its mouth – weit, meaning wide. Early English settlers in South Africa misinterpreted the word weit for white.


According to the International Rhino Foundation, these rhinos are a success story in conservation. Their population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th Century, and by 2005, the estimated populations have grown to 11,320 in the wild, and 740 in captivity.


Like other rhinos, the southern white has been persecuted by poachers who sell its horn for medicinal or ornamental purposes.


“Continued conservation efforts to
[Back to Press Releases Main]