Mother Katie was pregnant for 16 months and gave birth to the bouncing baby 100-pound rhino Jan. 20.
GULF BREEZE — After a 16-month pregnancy, parents Robbie and Katie are proud to announce the birth of their healthy 100-pound baby, Katana — the first Southern white rhino born at the Gulf Breeze Zoo.
Zookeepers had been monitoring the 8-year-old mother more closely in the final months before she gave birth Jan. 20. Newborn rhino calves weigh between 80 and 140 pounds, and Katana is gaining about 10 pounds a day.
She is full of energy and can be seen romping around with her mother, according to a press release from the zoo.
Fully grown females weigh 3,000 to 4,000 pounds, while adult males weigh up to 5,000 pounds. Katie met the father, Robbie, after he was introduced to the zoo in 2013 from the Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates, a breeding sanctuary in Florida.
Wild rhinos are facing the worst poaching streak in history. There are fewer than 20,000 Southern white rhinos in the wild, according to the release.
Despite their name, white rhinos are actually gray and have two horns on the bridge of their head. Some cultures believe rhino horns, which are made of keratin (like fingernails), can cure diseases. That leaves wild rhinos severely vulnerable, and without continued conservation efforts it is estimated the wild populations could be extinct in less than 20 years.
"When a species is this endangered, every birth is special, but we’ve waited a long time for this particular baby, so we're thrilled" said Jesse Pottebaum, director of the Gulf Breeze Zoo.
Katana and her rhino family are available for viewing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, weather permitting, from the guided train ride.
Gulf Breeze Zoo, which is home to more than 800 exotic animals, is at 5701 Gulf Breeze Parkway. Visit www.GBZoo.com for event updates, seasonal hours and more.