Justin, a nine-day-old southern white rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, isn’t afraid of much – as long as his mom is nearby.
The 125-pound rhino recently went toe-to-toe (hoof-to-hoof?) with a cape buffalo while mom watched from a safe distance, but mostly the newborn likes to check out his new surroundings and nap — a lot.
Justin was born on Feb. 7 to mom Kacy in the 60-acre East African Plains enclosure. He is 125 pounds now, but his keepers say he should gain 100 pounds each month his first year. When he’s full-grown he’ll weigh between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds.
"Justin is very cute, and he's beginning to show lots of personality," says Matt Gelvin, lead keeper, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. "He is very playful, running, jumping and loves checking out everything around him, including the animals that share his habitat. However, his mom Kacy is a very attentive and protective mom. She is fairly tolerant of the other rhinos and animals being curious about the baby, but she is definitely keeping a close eye on them."
Justin is the 97th southern white rhino born at the Safari Park since 1972.
Justin and Kacy can be seen from the Africa Tram Safari, a Caravan Safari, a balloon safari or from the park’s new giraffe cam.
The southern white rhino is near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species with only 18,000 remaining in the world.
Due to poaching, a rhino dies every eight hours in South Africa, according to the World Economic Forum.
San Diego Zoo Global recently built the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center to house six southern white rhinos brought in from South Africa. The 3.5-acre state-of-the-art animal facility is dedicated to the conservation of white rhinos, with a focus on assisted reproductive techniques.
Rhinos graze on grass, which helps maintain the diverse African grasslands, increase plant diversity and provide grazing areas for other animals that share their natural habitat.