Baby rhino meets public at Safari Park

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Three-day-old Southern White Rhino stares down “Auntie” at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Photo taken on Oct. 16 , 2016, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

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SAN DIEGO — A southern white rhinoceros born three days ago at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park made her public debut Friday, according to park officials.

Kianga, which means sunshine in Swahili, was born Tuesday to mother Kacy and father Maoto — their second calf together. She’s the 94th of her species born at the Safari Park.

Kacy hasn’t let the father, brother or any other rhinos get close, however.

“Kacy is a very attentive and protective mother,” said Tina Hunter, a senior keeper at the Safari Park.

“She is fairly tolerant of the other rhinos being curious about the baby, but she is definitely keeping them at a distance,” Hunter said. “She is going to have her work cut out for her, as Kianga is rambunctious, has lots of energy and is a very curious little calf.”

Kianga will nurse from her mother for up to one year, a period in which she could gain 100 pounds a month. Her weight is currently estimated to be 120 pounds.

When full grown, at around three years of age, she could weigh between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds, according to the Safari Park.

Unlike the nearly extinct northern white rhino — only four of those remain in the world — the southern white rhino species numbers around 18,000 in the wild, and are classified as “near threatened,” park officials said.

Their numbers suffer from poaching for their horns, which are mistakenly believed to have medicinal value in some Asian cultures, according to the Safari Park. Products made from the horn have also become a status symbol, the park said.

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