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Both momma and baby are healthy and doing well.

By Chad Taylor
March 05, 2021
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Rhinos are many things. Huge. Majestic. Gentle. They're known for their large stature and their prehistoric-looking horns. They are NOT, however, hugely regarded for their stealth skills. I mean, I doubt anyone has ever left their yurt and thought to look over their shoulders for any surprise rhinos.

And yet, a surprise rhino is exactly what the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas is dealing with after their female rhino Bibi gave birth to a completely unexpected little boy!

baby rhino with mother rhino
Credit: Courtesy of Sedgwick County Zoo

How could that happen, you ask? Well, it's a situation that was helped along by the fact that rhinos keep their buns in the oven for a particularly long time. While human pregnancies traditionally last nine months—and your dog will have a gestation period of right around two months—a rhino pregnancy is a 16 month affair. Imagine getting pregnant in August, then spending the next two Christmases in maternity pants.

The zoo's last male rhino passed away in September, 2020 and the pair hadn't had...mommy/daddy time since the previous autumn. Apparently, Bibi had a date night with the male sometime in 2019, but the zoo staff thought that it'd been unsuccessful, i.e. no baby rhinos to plan for.

In a post to Facebook, the zoo says the animal care team "was taken by surprise when lab results early last month indicated she may be pregnant. Without access to specialty ultrasound equipment, they could only speculate a gestational age and potential due date. It was only over the past couple of weeks that Bibi's behavior began to show that a baby may be on the way soon."

And in the case of Bibi, "soon" wound up being in the morning hours of March 1. The following day, the zoo's veldt keepers took over their Facebook page, filling the feed with photos and updates on the newest veldt resident, including some night cam footage of momma and baby settling down for the night.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a human on earth who doesn't agree that baby animals are some of the cutest things to grace the internet (zookeepers included). When zoos are blessed with some of their own—whether an endangered species like pandas, or more common but small and SUPER cute otters—they like to make a big deal out of their arrival. So as you might expect, Sedgwick County is excited to show off their newest black rhino.

For the immediate future, Bibi and her beebee will remain in the indoor enclosure at the African veldt exhibit while zoo workers baby-proof the outer spaces. I can't imagine what goes into "baby-RHINO-proofing" a space, but once everything is secure and the newest black rhino has gotten his first physical, both rhinos will be free to roam the enclosure and meet visitors face to face.