Zoo Atlanta welcomes new Southern White Rhino

Zoo Atlanta received some very special cargo on October 11, 2021, with the arrival of Kiazi, a 19-year-old female southern white rhinoceros. Kiazi comes to Zoo Atlanta most recently from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance in California. Her move to Atlanta was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) White Rhino Species Survival Plan® (SSP).

Kiazi, whose name means “sweet potato,” was recommended by the SSP to join Mumbles, the 10-year-old male southern white rhino who joined the Zoo Atlanta population in 2020 on the heels of the opening of the Zoo’s new African Savanna complex. Kiazi will have an opportunity to settle in inside the indoor portion of her new home before exploring her outdoor habitat and being visible to Zoo Members and guests.

“We are so excited to welcome Kiazi to Zoo Atlanta,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “Rhinos are animals with an urgent conservation message. We want our Members and guests to get to know Kiazi – and, if they have not already been permanently charmed by him, Mumbles – so that they can understand the things they can do in their daily lives to preserve these extraordinary animals in the wild.”

White rhinos, which are the largest of the five rhino species, are not actually white, despite their name. The moniker is believed to have originated with the Afrikaans word wyd, meaning “wide” – a reference to the shape of white rhinos’ upper lips.

While poaching for their horns is a serious issue for all rhinos and has already resulted in the extinctions and near-extinctions of some species, southern white rhinos are especially vulnerable because they often travel in herds in the wild, a behavior that makes it easier for poachers to locate them. Powdered rhino horn is believed by some cultures to possess medical properties, although rhino horns are made of keratin – the same substance found in human hair and fingernails – and have no known medicinal value.

Stay tuned for updates on when visitors will be able to see Kiazi, and learn more about the Zoo’s animals, mission, and programs at zooatlanta.org.

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