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Toronto Zoo Celebrates World Rhino Day
With BIG News!

Indian Rhinos “Ashakiran” & “Vishnu” – Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo

TORONTO, ON, Friday, September 22, 2017 - Today is #WorldRhinoDay, a day to acknowledge these incredible species and how we can ensure their survival in the future. In celebration of this day, we’re excited to announce that we have two pregnant rhinos – Indian rhino Ashakiran and white rhino Zohari!

A white rhino’s gestation period lasts 425-496 days (approximately 16 months), and we expect Zohari will give birth between November and January. Earlier this year, Keepers noticed that Zohari became very sleepy, having many short naps throughout the day, and also started to drink more water than usual. Keepers also take what we refer to as “body condition score pictures” to ensure our rhinos are kept in good physical shape, and Keepers observed her noticeably different body composition when they compared December 2016 pictures to pictures taken during the 2017 summer months . The first ultrasound that confirmed her pregnancy was in March, and the baby is now visibly moving and you can observe ripples along her belly. Zohari continues to sleep a lot in sand piles Keepers have made for her in the rhino habitat. Zohari (seven years old) and father-to-be Tom (10 years old) would both be first time parents.

An Indian rhino’s gestation period lasts 462-491 days (approximately 16 months) and Keepers are anticipating Ashakiran to give birth between December and January. Ashakiran and Vishnu were observed breeding Labour Day 2016, both during the day and overnight. Pregnancy was first determined through a urine collection and hormone analysis by the Toronto Zoo’s Reproductive Lab. Keepers also monitor when she comes into estrus as well, which is every 21-42 days, so when she missed her first heat cycle, Keepers were eager to see if she missed her next cycle, which she did. Ashakiran (13 years old) and Vishnu (14 years old) would be second time parents with Nandu, their first offspring, being born February 2016.

At present, Zohari will be viewable in the African Savanna most days in the morning with her half-sister Sabi (you can distinguish them apart as Zohari has no hair on her ears). Ashakiran is viewable daily in Indo-Malaya with her 19 month old calf Nandu.

The Indian rhino is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species with only approximately 2,000 left in the wild, and the white rhino is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN’s Red List with approximately 19,682 – 21,077 left in the wild. The Toronto Zoo is part of both the Indian and white rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), which aims to establish and maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations, and overall conservation efforts to save these incredible species. One of the Toronto Zoo's mandates is to educate visitors on current conservation issues and help preserve the incredible biodiversity on the planet. The Toronto Zoo is in a great position to bring forward the plight of rhinos and supports rhinoceros conservation efforts in the wild through keeper driven educational awareness and fundraising events and the Toronto Zoo Endangered Species Reserve Fund.

Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care staff will continue to closely monitor both Ashakiran and Zohari in the coming months and remain cautiously optimistic for these exciting births. #TORhinoWatch #SaveTheRhino

Media Information:

Media: If you wish to set up a media interview please email and note that onsite opportunities will only be available between 12-2pm on Friday September 22.

As both expectant moms are being closely monitored by Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care staff at this time, media are not permitted in the maternity area of either rhino habitat. Toronto Zoo staff will provide updates, photos and video as they become available.


World Rhino Awareness Weekend

Saturday, September 23 and
Sunday, September 24, 2017

Join us to celebrate and help save rhinos! All over the world, zoos and conservation organizations will unite during the month of September to celebrate these amazing pachyderms. Rhinos are in desperate need of our help as poaching of this magnificent animal is on the rise. The current poaching rate is an alarming one rhino every eight hours. Did you know that wild rhinos face the threat of extinction within the next 15 years without extreme conservation efforts? However, endangered means we still have time to save them so join us and find out how YOU can help!

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