ASHEBORO, N.C. – The North Carolina Zoo announced on Thursday the name of the female southern white rhino calf born at the Zoo on Jan. 5. She was born to mother Kit and father Stormy.
“Mguu” was the name chosen by Zach Neal, a Zoo employee, from a list of names created by the rhino keepers. The Zoo invited employees to enter a free drawing to choose the name and Zach was the lucky winner. Zach and his family also won a behind the scenes tour with Mguu and the rest of the rhino herd.
Mguu, pronounced (mm-goo), means “feet” in Swahili. Zoo officials say the name is fitting since she has really big feet. She is Kit’s second baby, her first being Bonnie, born in 2018.
The Zoo’s herd now boasts a total of nine rhinos, with typically seven roaming the 40-acre Watani Grasslands habitat. Mguu and Kit will be joining the herd on the Watani Grasslands as the temperatures warm up this spring. Mguu marks the third Southern white rhino born at the Zoo in under two years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, southern white rhinos were hunted to near extinction for their horns, which some erroneously believe provide medicinal benefits. Rhino horn is constructed from keratin, which is the same material that makes up human fingernails and hair. There are currently around 20,000 southern white rhinos left in the wild, mostly in the southern Africa region.
Today, populations in the wild still face significant threats from poaching and habitat loss. In addition to their work with the rhinos at the North Carolina Zoo, staff work on projects in several countries in Southern Africa to protect wild rhinos from poaching and save the species from extinction.