It’s always a momentous occasion to share news about a successful animal birth at Walt Disney World Resort. Today I would like to introduce you to an adorable white rhino, born to the first mother Jao behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. The mother and baby do very well under the cheerful, vigilant eyes of the guardians. I am pleased to report that the beautiful calf approached the mother and began breastfeeding immediately.
Although we give Jao and his baby plenty of time to bond, it will be a while before we know the weight of the calf. Typically, white rhino calves can weigh up to 140 pounds at birth. Did you know that majestic rhinos are the second largest land animal in the world?
The rhino also has one of the longest gestation periods of any mammal: approximately 16 to 18 months. Veterinarians, scientists, and animal caregivers on our animal care team closely monitored Jao during her pregnancy, performing periodic checkups and ultrasounds to ensure a safe birth.
Jao was paired with Father Dugan, the herd bull, through one of the species ’survival plans, overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure responsible breeding of endangered species. This birth is a real milestone for this endangered species. And our herd continues to grow. This delivery marks the 12thth rhino born at Disney and the second rhino born last year. And there are even more hooves on the horizon, as another first-time mother, Lola, is expected to give birth this fall.
In the coming weeks, Jao and the baby are expected to join the “shock” (a group of rhinos), in their habitat of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, where park guests can spot the herd while they are aboard the Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Be sure to check out the Disney Parks blog as we’ll continue to share updates on these rhino births and more animal news.