SAN DIEGO – A second Southern White Rhino at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is pregnant through artificial insemination.
Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research announced Tuesday that they have confirmed a pregnancy in another one of the six southern white rhinos living at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center: 10-year-old Amani.
The pregnancy, made possible through artificial insemination with sperm from a male southern white rhino named J Gregory, is important to the ongoing work to develop scientific knowledge required to genetically recover the northern white rhino, a close relative of the southern white rhino.
Only two northern white rhinos currently remain on Earth and, unfortunately, both are female.
“Many months of intensive animal training, reproductive research and veterinary care resulted in these two ongoing pregnancies from artificial insemination,” said Barbara Durrant, Ph.D., Henshaw endowed director of reproductive sciences, San Diego Zoo Global. “We are following Victoria and Amani closely, continuing to gather critical information about early fetal development and the endocrinology of rhino pregnancy. The team is anxiously awaiting the arrival of our very special babies!”
Rhino gestation lasts from 16 to 18 months. The artificial insemination of Amani occurred July 12 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Earlier this year, in May, it was announced that Victoria, another southern white rhino, had become pregnant by the first successful artificial insemination in the San Diego Zoo’s 102-year history.
The two females, along with four other female southern white rhinos, were relocated to the Safari Park from private reserves in South Africa in November 2015.
Artificial insemination of rhinos has rarely been attempted in zoos, and only a few births have resulted from this procedure in the past.
If Amani and Victoria are able to carry their pregnancies to term, the first southern white rhino calves born at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center could arrive in late 2019.