ARIZONA NEWS

White rhinoceros born in Arizona for the 1st time in decades

Nov 26, 2023, 7:15 AM | Updated: Nov 27, 2023, 10:25 am

Masiki the baby Rhino with mom Zuri. (Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park photo)...

Masiki the baby Rhino with mom Zuri. (Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park photo)

(Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park photo)

PHOENIX — A white rhinoceros was born in Arizona for the first time in decades, according to officials from the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park.

The female white rhino calf, named Masiki (or Siki for short), was born Nov. 7 to her parents Zuri and Maoto and is in “excellent health.”

Her name can be translated to the word “mask” from multiple Bantu languages, which is a language family of about 600 languages that are spoken by the Bantu peoples of Central, Southern, Eastern and Southeast Africa.

“She was tough to monitor through ultrasound because her ears kept getting in the way and after she was born, her ears were one of the first things to move after birth,” Wildlife World’s rhino specialist Emily Kading said.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, located in Litchfield Park, near Phoenix, started a rhino conservation breeding plan about a decade ago. The project brought in three unrelated female rhinos who were orphaned in South Africa. Wildlife World also acquired a once imported male rhino from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

“This is the most significant birth we’ve had in the history of our zoo,” Wildlife World’s president Kristy Hayden said. “This baby opens up a whole new bloodline that will play a key role in rhino conservation for decades to come.”

According to Wildlife World, the entire rhino population is at risk. At the start of the 20th Century, 500,000 rhinos roamed the wild. Today, around 27,000 rhinos live in Africa.

“I’m grateful Wildlife World had the resources and capabilities to import her mother Zuri from Africa, where she is no longer at risk of being killed by poachers, and to provide her and Maoto a natural environment to procreate,” Hayden said.

Wildlife World also works in collaboration with the American Institute of Rhinoceros Science (AIRS) to support rhino conservation efforts to improve genetic diversity and the fight against the extinction of rhinos.

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White rhinoceros born in Arizona for the 1st time in decades