SALINA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) in Salina, Kansas, welcomes the birth of the zoo’s first southern white rhino calf on Dec. 9.

Photo courtesy: Rolling Hills Zoo

The mother, Evey, and the calf are both doing well and bonding, according to RHZ. The sex of the calf has not been confirmed, as the animal care staff are monitoring the two from a distance.

“The Rolling Hills Zoo staff and I are over the moon for Evey and the first baby rhino birth at the Zoo,” said Ryan VanZant, RHZ executive director. “This a truly wonderful gift right before the holidays.”

Evey was named for her birth date of Dec. 31 and will be turning 15-years-old this year. Before she arrived at the RHZ, she had been part of a 15 member white rhino herd (crash) at The Wilds Safari Park and Conservation Center in Cumberland, Ohio. Evey moved to RHZ on a breeding recommendation by the SSP of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), of which RHZ is an accredited member. The zoo was happy to find out that she was pregnant when she arrived at the zoo in Oct. 2020. White rhino pregnancies can last 16 to 18 months.

Photo courtesy: Rolling Hills Zoo

The white rhino is the second-largest land mammal after the elephant. They have been deemed a conservation success after being brought back from the brink of extinction. However, there is a current surge in poaching for their horns, particularly in South Africa, where the country has seen record numbers killed in the past few years. Urgent efforts are underway to stop the poaching and end the illegal trade. In Africa today, more than 20,000 southern white rhinos thrive in sanctuaries and are classified as “near threatened.”

Evey is an experienced mother, having given birth to three offspring: Jaycambo, a male born in 2011; Agnes, a female born in 2014; and Gordon, a male born in 2017. She has been a great mother to all three. While Jaycambo is no longer at The Wilds Safari Park, Agnes and Gordon are still part of the herd.

Photo courtesy: Rolling Hills Zoo

The rhino barn is currently closed for public viewing. RHZ asks for the public’s patience and understanding as they allow the mother and calf time to bond.

RHZ is a 65-acre modern zoological park that includes a world-class wildlife museum. They pride themselves on mirroring more naturalistic environments in their exhibits, conducting science-based education programs, and participating in conservation programs on local, national, and international levels. They do this all while offering family-safe experiences.

Guests can find out more information about the RHZ on their website or Facebook page.