A southern white rhino is pregnant, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced Tuesday; another step in stopping the extinction of an entire rhino subspecies.
Amani is a 10-year-old southern white rhino who was artificially inseminated on July 12. The father is a southern white rhino named J Gregory.
She was one of six rhinos relocated from private reserves in South Africa to the safari park in 2015.
It’s the second white rhino pregnancy at the zoo this year. The first, Victoria, was announced back in May. She was also artificially inseminated.
Artificial insemination of rhinos is rarely attempted in zoos with even fewer births, the safari park said.
“The team is anxiously awaiting the arrival of our very special babies,” San Diego Zoo spokesperson, Dr. Barbara Durrant, said.
Rhino pregnancies last anywhere between 16 to 18 months, according to the San Diego Zoo.
The last male northern white rhino, Sudan, was euthanized in March because of old age. He was 45.
There are now only two northern white rhinos left on Earth – both female.
The southern white rhino is the closest relative to the northern white rhino, although they are two distinct subspecies. Still, the southern white rhino may be the key to saving its close relatives, the zoo said.
Southern white rhinos can serve as surrogates for northern white rhino embryos created from frozen stem cells the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has collected.
It’s very possible that a northern white rhino calf is born in the next 10 to 15 years, according to researchers at the institute.
This isn’t the only effort the zoo has made in protecting critically endangered rhinos.
The pregnancy announcement comes one day after the San Diego Safari Park said it was relocating an east African black rhino to Tanzania.
The relocation aims to help stop the decline of black rhinos. There are only 5,000 left on the planet.
World Rhino Day is September 22, and the Safari Park is sure to celebrate the exciting pregnancy and other work that could help stop total extinction.