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Baby rhino born at Virginia Zoo — weighing a healthy 125 pounds
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Baby rhino born at Virginia Zoo — weighing a healthy 125 pounds

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The rhinos at the Virginia Zoo have a new member of the family.

A southern white rhinoceros — who doesn’t have a name just yet — was born July 11 to dad Sibindi and first-time mom Zina, bringing the zoo’s rhino population to four.

The rhino birth is a first for the Virginia Zoo, which hopes the baby will call attention to conservation efforts for the species. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the southern white rhinoceros as near threatened.

“Because of the demand for their horns, rhinos are often killed daily,” Greg Bockheim, the zoo’s executive director, said in a statement. “A baby animal’s cuteness piques the interest of everyone, but then we are able to share their conservation story and the ways we can protect their species.”

The baby was born as part of an international effort organized through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the continuance of the southern white rhinoceros species. The gestation period for a rhino is 16 to 18 months, according to the Virginia Zoo, and Zina’s pregnancy was 16 months and 21 days.

Zoo staffers said the rhino baby is curious and strong, and nursing and bonding well with Zina. At birth, the baby weighed 125 pounds, and he was gaining 5 to 10 pounds every day. He was 22 inches tall at birth and was 36 inches long.

Visitors can see Zina and her baby inside the rhino night barn, where the duo are staying for now.

A lucky bidder will have the chance to name the baby rhino, with proceeds supporting rhino conservation in the wild. Naming hopefuls can place their bids at VirginiaZoo.org/babyrhino through July 30.

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