GULF BREEZE — Gulf Breeze Zoo, a Zoo and Aquarium Association accredited facility, is excited to announce the birth of its first Southern white rhinoceros. The healthy baby girl, named Katana was born after a 16-month pregnancy to Katie an 8-year-old female white rhino, early in the morning on January 20th.
The Zoo has been hopeful for this birth since father rhino, Robbie was introduced to the Zoo in 2013 from the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates, a breeding sanctuary in Florida.
Zookeepers had been monitoring the mother, Katie, closely for several months before she gave birth. Both mom and baby are very healthy they say.
Katana is gaining weight at a rate of around 10 pounds per day. She is full of energy and can be seen playfully romping around with her mother.
Rhino calves are born weighing between 80 and 140 pounds. Fully grown females like mother, Katie, weigh roughly 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, while adult males like Robbie weigh up to 5,000 pounds.
Wild rhinos are facing the worst poaching streak in history, leaving less than 20,000 Southern white rhinos in the wild.
Despite their name, white rhinos are actually grey in color, with two horns on the bridge of their head.
Some cultures falsely believe rhino horns, which are made of keratin like our fingernails, can cure diseases. This leaves wild rhinos severely vulnerable and without continued conservation efforts. It is estimated the wild populations will be extinct in less than 20 years.
"When a species is this endangered, every birth is special but we’ve waited a long time for this particular baby so we're thrilled" said Director Jesse Pottebaum.
Katana and her rhino family are currently available for viewing daily from the guided train ride, weather dependent, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.