The Indianapolis Colts may have lost all hope of making the Super Bowl last month, but the city celebrated a different kind of victory this Super Bowl Sunday: the birth of a white rhino calf.
Mom Zenzele, 19, gave birth around 9:15 a.m. local time, the Indianapolis Zoo said. Zenzele’s newborn is her seventh calf, but also the zoo’s first baby rhino.
“Zenzele is an experienced and confident mother and everything is going very well,” said rhino keeper Amber Berndt.
The zoo has not yet shared information on the sex of the baby rhino. The guards said Zenzele was relaxed and his calf was fine.
The zoo is now home to a herd of five rhinos, including Spike, Mambo and Gloria, who is also Zenzele’s grandmother, according to the zoo. Zenzele and her baby will spend time together before being introduced to the rest of the herd in the spring.
The calf’s father, Kengele, lives in The Wilds, which is the home base of the American Institute of Rhinoceros Science. Zenzele had also lived at The Wilds in Ohio until arriving at the Indianapolis Zoo in June.
Zoo employees describe the mother’s personality as laid back, but very outgoing and curious. She also likes to have pets and scratches.
White rhino pregnancies last 16 to 18 months. Newborns weigh between 100 and 150 pounds.
The zoo announced the news of Zenzele’s pregnancy last month. Staff caring for the zoo’s rhinos began monitoring at night this month after Zenzele began producing milk and showing signs of imminent birth.
Southern White Rhinoceros are classified as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It is the only one of the five rhino species that is not considered endangered, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.
“The number of white rhinos in the wild continues to decline and it is crucial to raise awareness about their plight,” said Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO Dr. Robert Shumaker in announcing Zenzele’s pregnancy. “The historic birth of this calf will be a symbol of hope for rhino conservation around the world.”
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