Second White Rhinoceros in a Year Born at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney announced on Tuesday that a baby white rhinoceros had been born at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The baby is the 12th rhino to be born at the park, as well as the second of its kind to be born within the last year, park officials said in the announcement.

The calf — who does not yet have a name — is one of 2,000 animals that call Animal Kingdom home.

Scott Terrell, Disney's director of animal and science operations, announced the birth in a blog post on Tuesday.

"Today, I would like to introduce you to an adorable baby white rhino, born to first-time mom Jao backstage at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park," he said. "Mom and baby are doing great under the keepers' watchful and joyful eyes.

"I am happy to report that the beautiful calf snuggled up to mom and began nursing right away," he continued.

Terrell explained that Jao was paired with the baby's father Dugan through a Species Survival Plan program run by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The program's goal, said Terrell, is to "ensure the responsible breeding of endangered species."

But white rhinos are no longer considered endangered. In 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reassessed the species, and officially listed it as "nearly threatened." Though the species is not yet out of the woods, conservation and management programs from across the globe — including Disney's — have been instrumental in preventing the species from going extinct.

According to Disney World's website, two white rhinos born at the resort were sent to Africa in 2006, where the species had been extinct since 1982. "It was a bold experiment," says the resort, but it paid off. In 2011, a calf named Malaika was born in Uganda for the first time in 30 years.

Of course, not all of Disney's wildlife are sent away. Conde Nast Traveler reported in 2020 that Walt Disney World is home to an estimated 10,000 animals. Two thousand of those animals live in Animal Kingdom and can be viewed by guests on wildlife tours. The rest reside throughout Epcot, Fort Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodge — a four-star resort hotel on Disney property.

Terrell said that the new baby and its mother will join a group of rhinos, otherwise known as a "crash," on the Harambe Wildlife Reserve in the coming weeks. Until then, the pair will enjoy some much-needed bonding time.

white rhino and calf
Second white rhinoceros in a year born at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Pictured above is a stock image of a white rhino cow and her calf. RudiHulshof/iStock