OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A baby Indian rhino was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and you can help name her.
The infant rhino, a girl, was born on Oct. 23 to 13-year-old Niki, the zoo’s youngest rhino, becoming the sixth Indian rhino – also called the greater one-horned rhino – at the zoo, according to an Oklahoma City Zoo news release.
Zoo caretakers say that both Niki and her infant daughter – her second calf – are healthy.
“Niki is an attentive mother, demonstrating good maternal behaviors such as nursing and keeping her daughter in close proximity,” the news release states.
However, while the baby is healthy and well-fed, she does not yet have a name. Zoo staff are calling upon community members to help change that.
Zoo personnel are hosting a baby rhino naming contest on the OKC Zoo’s official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/okczoo. Community members still have time to vote as the contest runs through Thursday, Nov. 5.
Voters can select from the following three name options, each representative of the species’ native habitat in India and Nepal:
A. Narayani: Means “Goddess of wealth and power” in Sanskrit, also a river in Nepal.
B. Oni: Hindu meaning “desired” or “wanted”.
C. Yabi: An acronym for the Yayasan Badak, a group of rhino protection units in Java and Sumatra funded by the International Rhino Foundation, one of the Zoo’s conservation partners. This is the Caretakers Choice!
Zoo officials will announce the winning name on the Facebook page on Friday.
Here’s a video of Niki and her baby provided by zoo officials:
Niki and her daughter will have access to their outdoor habitat in a secluded section of Sanctuary Asia if the weather is 50 degrees or higher. The mom and daughter viewable to guests riding on the Elephant Express tram, weather permitting.
The zoo prepared for the baby’s birth by performing monthly ultrasounds on Niki.
Arun, a 30-year-old male Indian rhino, died at the zoo six days after the calf was born.
The Oklahoma City Zoo has been a home to Indian rhinos since 1981. Niki is originally from the Bronx Zoo. She came to the OKC Zoo in 2009.
Indian rhinos are native to India and Nepal. They can weigh over 3,000 pounds and are known for their single horn and tough skin that resembles body armor.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature currently lists Indian rhinos as “vulnerable.”
“Through successful conservation programs and daily protection, Indian rhino populations in the wild have increased to more 3,600 animals. However, there is a continuing decline in the quality of their natural habitat and the species continues to be illegally hunted for its horn,” the news release states.
The OKC Zoo supports the International Rhino Foundation, which works to protect vulnerable and critically endangered rhinos and their habitat in India with money from the Round Up for Conservation Fund.
“The Zoo’s Round Up for Conservation program encourages guests to donate their change from any Zoo purchase to help protect wildlife and wild places around the world. The Zoo’s American Association of Zookeepers chapter has raised more than $373,000 for rhinos in Asia and Africa through its fundraising efforts since 1990,” the news release states.
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