Baby rhino makes Safari Park debut

San Diego (KUSI) – The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a new guest this week and Friday she made her first appearance in public. 

Kianga, a northern white rhinoceros, made the public debut Friday after being born just three days ago.

The baby rhino is the youngest of two children born to be born to mother Kacy and father Maoto.

Since her birth, Kianga, which means sunshine in Swahili, has been under the watchful eye of her mother who hasn’t allowed the newborn’s father or brother get close yet.

“Kacy is a very attentive and protective mother,” said Tina Hunter, a senior keeper at the Safari Park.

“She is fairly tolerant of the other rhinos being curious about the baby, but she is definitely keeping them at a distance,” Hunter said. “She is going to have her work cut out for her, as Kianga is rambunctious, has lots of energy and is a very curious little calf.”

According to park officials, Kianga will nurse with her mother for up to one year. The calf, who is currently 120 pounds, could gain up to 100 pounds a month in that period. 

Park visitors should expect Kianga to reach full growth at around three years of age, when she could weigh between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds, according to the park. 

Kianga is part of a species that, unlike the northern white rhino, has about 18,000 in the wild. 

The southern rhinoceros species is still classified as "near threatened," however, while only four norther white rhinos remain.

Rhinos are a popular target for poachers, who often target them for the medicinal value some Asian cultures mistakenly believe their horns to contain.

Park officials also say the horns and products made from them have become a status symbol in some cultures. 

Categories: KUSI