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Baby rhino carries on her species at North Carolina Zoo

(NC Zoo)

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo welcomed the first southern white rhino born at the zoo in 41 years on Monday.

Born to mother Linda and father Stormy, the thus-far unnamed female calf is healthy, nursing and developing normally, according to a news release. Zoo officials plan to let her join the rest of the herd in the habitat as soon as possible.

She was born weighing approximately 80 to 90 pounds  and is expected to gain 100 pound a month through her first year. Fully grown, the rhino could grow to between 3,500 to 5,500 pounds, 12 to 13 feet long and up to six feet from hoof to shoulder. An adult can run up to 30 miles per hour.

“Every birth at the North Carolina Zoo is special and this one particularly so,” said North Carolina Zoo Director Pat Simmons in the release. “With each new rhino born, it is a success story for this species as a whole. The Zoo is committed to being part of conservation initiatives both within the zoo community and internationally in order to ensure the survival of this species.”

The North Carolina Zoo is part of a global effort to save the southern white rhino and has taken care of rhinos since 1976. In 2008, the zoo completed a 40-acre Watani Grasslands expansion to support a breeding rhino herd. The herd includes Linda and Stormy as well as females Kit, Natalie and Abby. Stan, a male, and Olivia, a female, are both older rhinos living in a off-viewing retirement habitat.

“Congratulations to the North Carolina Zoo on this important birth of a southern white rhino. The Zoo’s efforts to save this species are yet another example of the leadership role the Zoo plays in conserving important species both at home and around the world,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Southern white rhinos came close to extinction in the beginning of the 20th century when they were hunted for their horns.

Wild populations still face threats from poaching and habitat loss.

The zoo continues  to work on projects to protect these gentle giants from poaching in several countries in Southern Africa.

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