Photo courtesy Dave Parkinson/Lowry Park Zoo
Tampa, Florida -- Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo has a new member of its animal family.
A southern white rhinoceros was born overnight on October 9. The male calf has been named Khari, an African name meaning "king-like."
The zoo says Khari has joined a herd of six other southern white rhinos in the zoo's outdoor exhibit.
Lowry Park Zoo's background on southern African white rhinos:
Native to eastern and southern Africa, the southern white rhinoceros species was recently reclassified to "threatened" status by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service due to increased poaching over the past two years. In 2012 in South Africa, 668 rhinos were killed by poachers, and it is estimated that as many as 1,000 rhinos could be lost this year.
Rhino poaching has reached a crisis point; at such rates, rhino deaths could overtake wild births in 2016-2018. The current poaching crisis is attributed to the growing demand for rhino horn in southeast Asia where horn, made out of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is wrongly believed to have medicinal properties.
The white rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, the most prominent in the front. Unlike Indian rhinos, white rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horn to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult white rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves estimated to weigh between 100-140 pounds.
In addition to conservation efforts with this species here at home, Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo has supported acquiring additional land to increase protected areas for elephants in Africa, and anti-poaching programs and public education in Swaziland. Results to date include expansion of the Mkhaya Game Reserve by 10 percent, to promote survival of elephants, rhinos and thousands of other animals protected there.