San Diego

Southern White Rhino Gives Birth After 16 Years of Infertility

After 16 years of infertility, a southern white rhino gave birth to a calf in April, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park announced Friday.

First-time mother Kiazi and father Maoto became parents on April 30.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park released videos and pictures of the calf taking a walk with her mother.

Southern white rhinos born in zoos tend to be infertile, according to researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research.

Researchers discovered that compounds called phytoestrogens found in soy and alfalfa fed to southern white rhinos at the zoo impacted the fertility of the females.

Two years after the diets were changed in 2014, two female southern white rhinos became pregnant, the zoo stated.

“The birth of Kiazi’s calf gives us a great deal of hope that by feeding low phytoestrogens at our institution and others, we can once again have a healthy, self-sustaining captive southern white rhinoceros population,” said Christopher Tubbs, Ph.D., a senior scientist in Reproductive Sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

The issue was not found in other species of rhinos at the zoo.

But Tubbs said phytoestrogens might be affecting reproduction of a number of other species living at the zoo.

According to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Kiazi's calf is the 96th southern white rhino calf born at the zoo since 1972.

She weighed around 125 pounds at birth and could weigh between 4,000 to 5,00 pounds at 3 years old.

Southern white rhinos is listed as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN).

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