The San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcome sign. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcome sign. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

A half-dozen female southern white rhinoceros that arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park two months ago now have names, park officials said Wednesday.

One name was chosen among more than 2,000 votes cast on the park’s website — Amani, which is Swahili for “peace.”

The other five rhinos — Nikita, Livia, Wallis, Victoria and Helene — were named in honor of San Diego Zoo Global rhino rescue program friends and supporters Nikita Kahn, Livia Stone, Wallis Annenberg, Victoria Seaver Dean and Dr. Helene Hoffman.

The rhinos, between 4 and 7 years of age, were relocated to the Safari Park from private reserves in South Africa as part of an effort to save the critically endangered northern white rhino, and all rhino species, from extinction.

Only three northern white rhinos remain in the world, living in a preserve in Africa, but they are unable to reproduce. Nola, a northern white rhino at the Safari Park, died last year.

Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, along with collaborators, are developing reproductive techniques to develop northern white rhino embryos from cells that are kept in storage, to be implanted in the southern white rhinos, which will serve as surrogate mothers.

According to San Diego Zoo Global, the researchers are optimistic that a northern white rhino calf could be born that way within 10 to 15 years. The method could be applied to other rhino species, including the critically endangered Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

Zoo officials said that at the current rate of poaching, all kinds of rhinos could become extinct in 15 years.

–City News Service