Today is World Rhino Day, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida has big news to share for the future of the rhino population. Rhinoceros are the world’s second-largest land animal and among the most endangered in the wild due to poaching. Disney’s Animal Kingdom announced today it is currently caring for three pregnant white rhinoceros, chosen to breed through the Species Survival Plans overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Kendi was the first rhino born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1999 and she’s expected to be the first to deliver a calf sometime this October. Jao is expected to give birth sometime in fall 2021 and Lola is due soon after. Rhinos’ gestation period lasts approximately 16-18 months, so each of these births are roughly 1½ years in the making.
Through routine checkups and ultrasounds, veterinarians work closely with the rhino keeper team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to keep a close eye on how the pregnancies are progressing. Rhino calves weigh between 88 and 140 pounds at birth and will stand up within the first hour of their lives. They stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their life.