Disney’s team of Animal & Science Cast Members just shared the news that a white rhino has been born at Walt Disney World!
The new arrival was born backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to first-time mom Jao. When the rhino was first born, Cast Members were careful to give both baby and mom space to bond. We now know that the new rhino is a healthy baby boy though it will take some time to learn his weight and other details while Cast Members observe the new family from a distance.
Disney’s Animal & Science team have reported that the calf is doing well, and they often see him cuddling with Jao and nursing. White Rhino calves can often weigh up to 140 pounds when they are born, and determining this calf’s weight will be one of the first steps in determining his overall health.
The second largest land animals in the world (only surpassed by the African elephant), rhinos have an incredibly long gestation period compared to most other mammals of about 16-18 months. Disney works closely with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to support one of the most successful White Rhino breeding programs anywhere right in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As a result, a dedicated team of scientists and veterinarians have been following Jao’s pregnancy very closely since the beginning.
Jao and her mate Dugan are part of AZA’s Species Survival Plan which works toward responsible breeding programs for animals that like the White Rhino are critically endangered in the wild.
This birth marks the 12th rhino born under the plan at Walt Disney World AND it is the second rhino birth at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the past year. (Another rhino is on the way, too! We’ve also learned that there is another first-time mom at Animal Kingdom, Lola, who is on track to give birth to another rhino in the fall.)
Regular checkups and ultrasounds have kept mom and baby happy and healthy throughout the entire gestation period, and now that Jao’s baby is here we cannot wait to see him join the herd at Kilimanjaro Safaris!