TAMPA — The southern white rhino population in Tampa Bay keeps growing.
Alake, a 20-year-old southern white rhino, gave birth days ago to a female calf at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, according to zoo officials. This is the eighth birth of the species at ZooTampa.
The baby rhino, who has not yet been named, will soon join the zoo’s “crash” of rhinos. A crash is what a group of rhinos moving at full speed — or any speed really — is called.
The calf was born June 6 and “appears to be strong and is nursing alongside her mother,” said a statement from ZooTampa.
The zoo said Alake is an experienced mother who was paired with a male, Ongava, through the Species Survival Plans, or SSP, overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure the survival of protected species.
“These babies and the rest of our southern white rhino herd are wonderful ambassadors for their species, giving our guests the opportunity to connect with and appreciate these magnificent animals,” said a statement from Dr. Larry Killmar, chief zoological officer.
The southern white rhino population fell to an estimated 50 to 200 rhinos at the start of the 20th century, according to the zoo. Conversation efforts in Africa have helped the species rebound and grow to more than 20,400.
However, the southern white rhino remains classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN. The rhino is endangered by loss of habitat and illegal poachers seeking the species horns.
ZooTampa visitors will seen be able to visit the baby rhino when the Expedition Wild Africa opens soon, according to the zoo.