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Watch Out Fiona, Kendi Has Arrived!

Randy Pairan
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Kendi in her enclosure shortly after being born.

Could baby hippo Fiona have some competition for cutest zoo baby? The Cincinnati Zoo says eastern black rhino Seyia gave birth to a calf named Kendi Monday morning.The zoo says the baby is healthy and took its first wobbly steps shortly after being born.

"This calf is only the fifth eastern black rhino born in the last two years in North America," says Curator of Mammals Christina Gorsuch. "Only one surviving calf was born in 2014/2015."

Zoo officials are keeping their distance for now while mother and baby bond, so they haven't yet identified the calf's sex. Kendi means "the loved one" in Swahili according to the zoo.

"Every rhino calf born is incredibly important for the population, which includes fewer than 60 in North America," Gorsuch says in release. "Calves will stay with their mothers for 3-4 years which means that the average female can only have one calf every 5 years."

According to the zoo:

In 2015, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), the body that manages populations in Zoos, determined that parents Faru and Seyia were a good genetic match and recommended that they breed. Faru came to Cincinnati from Atlanta in the summer of 2015 and was introduced to Seyia.
Eastern black rhinos, native to Eastern and Central Africa, have two large horns made of keratin that they use for defense, intimidation, and feeding. An adult can weigh anywhere between 1,760 and 3,080 pounds, and newborns (calves) weigh between 73 – 121 pounds. The species is Critically Endangered due to poaching and habitat loss. Fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remain in the world, and approximately 60 are managed by the SSP in North American Zoos.
The public will be able to see Kendi and Seyia in their outdoor habitat in a couple of weeks, weather and health depending. Dad, Faru, will be out daily. Black rhinos are solitary animals, so there are no plans to unite the three.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.