GRANT PARK — Visitors headed to Zoo Atlanta today may catch a glimpse of the two-week-old rhinoceros calf.
The as-yet, unnamed calf is expected to make a public appearance with his mother, Andazi, get their first opportunity to explore their outdoor habitat.
Estimated to weigh around 60 pounds at his birth on Aug. 17, 2013, the calf is the first rhino born at Zoo Atlanta in its more than 124-year history. As is typical for their solitary species, the calf’s father, Utenzi, will not share space with his son.
While the panda twin births at Zoo Atlanta have garnered a lot of attention in recent week, the rhino calf represents a critically endangered species with an urgent conservation message.
Eastern black rhinoceros populations have experienced near-catastrophic decline in recent years.
They were hunted to near-extinction in the 1980s, largely as a result of poaching for their horns, skin and bodily fluids, which are believed by some cultures to have curative properties.
Conservation programs and stringent patrolling of rhino habitat have helped populations increase to about 4,800 in the wild, but the species remains critically endangered.
Indeed, poaching remains an acute problem in several countries on the African continent that have rhino conservation and protection programs.
Four suspected rhino poachers were shot and killed in South Africa's Kruger National Park on Aug. 26.