For Immediate Release
September 17, 2015
Virginia Safari Park Welcomes Baby White Rhino!
First baby rhino "Sawyer" born August 24th
Natural Bridge, VA – September 17th – The Virginia Safari Park, a ZAA accredited facility, welcomed its first baby white rhinoceros on August 24th. The healthy baby boy was born after a 16-month pregnancy to “Samira” a 6 year-old female imported by the Safari Park in 2011. The father, “Leroy” is a 13 year-old male which came to the Park in 2013 from the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates (CCTU), a breeding sanctuary in Florida.
Last year, rhinos faced the worst poaching in history, leaving roughly 20,000 white rhinos left in the wild. Virginia Safari Park imported 4 female white rhinos from South Africa to help protect rhinos from being poached in that country. Despite their name, white rhinos are actually grey in color, with two horns on the bridge of their head. Unfortunately, some cultures falsely believe rhino horns, which are made of keratin like our fingernails, can cure diseases. This leaves wild rhinos severely endangered and without continued conservation efforts, it is estimated the wild populations will be extinct in less than 20 years.
"Many of the rhinos within the same territory as our females have since been poached for their horns. It is important for the long-term survival of the species, and for our conservation programs in general, to set up additional breeding groups to assist with this cause, " said Eric Mogensen, Corporate Director and CEO of Virginia Safari Park. "We welcome this first birth as helping to lay the foundation for a strong white rhino breeding herd.”
The baby, named Sawyer by staff, is gaining weight at a rate of around 10 pounds per day. He is full of energy and, although baby rhinos are born without horns, he can be seen playfully butting his mother. Baby rhino calves are born weighing between 80- 140 pounds. Fully grown females like mother, Samira, weigh roughly 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, while adult males like, Leroy, weigh up to 5,000 pounds.
"Sawyer is our first rhino calf born at Virginia Safari Park and we are very happy to see our herd of rhinos continue to grow," said Safari Curator, Sarah Friedel. "Another female from our herd is also pregnant and due to give birth soon. "
Virginia Safari Park is a 180 acre drive-thru adventure, with over 1,000 animals from around the world. The Park is open daily from Mid-March until late November, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Conveniently located just off I-81, exit 180/180B, admission tickets are $17.95 for adults, $11.95 for children. Resident, military, senior and group rate specials are available. Call (540) 291-3205, or visit www.virginiasafaripark.com for event updates, seasonal hours, and more.