By Lauren J. Mapp
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s southern white rhino calf ran through the main exhibit for the first time today.
Edward and his mother Victoria galloped around the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center exhibit for about 30 minutes before relaxing in the mud wallow, according to a Safari Park spokesperson.
“The second they entered the exhibit, Victoria just took off, running laps,” said Jill Van Kempen, senior keeper. “It was so fun to see Edward running right along beside her. He was very energetic, sometimes breathing heavily, and even getting all four feet off the ground at times.”
Though mother Victoria has already roamed the main exhibit, today’s outing was Edward’s first time exploring it.
The three-week-old has gained 95 pounds since he was born on July 28, now weighing in at 243 pounds.
Edward is the first southern white rhino to be born via artificial insemination in North America. Researchers estimate there are only about 18,000 southern white rhinos in the wild.
The calf is part of the Safari Park’s Rhino Rescue program to help revive the related northern white rhino species. Northern white rhinos are nearly extinct, with only two females left on Earth.
Researchers plan to use stem cells, preserved northern white rhino cells and artificial insemination into southern white rhino surrogates to birth a northern white rhino calf in the next decade or two.
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