'We're in AWWW': Rare Baby White Rhino Born at Drive-Through Safari

On world rhinoceros day, a rare southern white rhino was born at Lion Country Safari — a drive-through safari in Florida. According to park officials, the calf is a "very big deal in the conservation world."

"We're in AWWW," the safari said in a Facebook post announcing the rhino's birth. Pictures attached to the social media post showed the calf enjoying time with its mother in the park's maternity area.

The calf—named Aziza, meaning "precious"—is the second offspring to mother Anna, as well as the 37th rhino calf to be born at the park since 1979, Lion Country Safari said in a press release. Officials called her birth a "significant" part of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Program, a "national collaboration to save this imperiled species from extinction."

"During the 1970s, this species was teetering on the edge of extinction with less than 1,000 individuals left on the planet," Lion Country Safari said in the release. "Today, thanks to multi-national collaborative breeding and protection efforts, there are an estimated 20,000 white rhinos and each new birth contributes to their continued conservation."

White rhinos are the "most abundant" of the five rhino species, Lion Country Safari said. Black, Sumatran and Javan rhinos are all listed as critically endangered on the IUCN's Red List. Indian rhinos are listed as vulnerable, and white rhinos are considered nearly threatened. Still, the white rhino could be in danger.

In fact, Newsweek previously reported that the other subspecies of white rhino, the northern white rhino, is extinct in the wild. The remaining two individuals, both female, are protected by armed guards.

Currently, 10,080 southern white rhinos remain in the wild, but the species' population trend is decreasing, according to the IUCN. Births like Aziza's through conservation programs ensure the survival of the species.

"Lion Country Safari is home to 14 White Rhinos—11 females and three males and is a proud participant of the White Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan [SSP], a program of the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums [AZA]," Lion Country said. "The SSP ensures that a genetically sound population of White Rhinos survives should threats worsen in the wild."

Though Aziza is currently enjoying some much-needed bonding time with her mother, guests can still catch a glimpse of the pair during their drive-through safari.

"Looking forward to seeing this little gal," said one Facebook commenter.

"What a cutie!! I love baby rhinos," exclaimed another.

White rhino calf
On world rhinoceros day, a rare southern white rhino was born at Lion Country Safari. Above is a stock image of a white rhino calf. LanternWorks/iStock