Taronga Western Plains Zoo is excited to announce a name for 12-week-old female Southern Black Rhinoceros calf – ‘Mesi’.
The name Mesi means ‘smoke’ in the South African Sotho language, and was decided on by Zoo Keepers following a recent vote.
“The name is quite different to any of our other Black Rhinoceros names, whilst also reflecting the native homeland of this species, so we felt it was very fitting,” Keeper Jake Williams said.
As the first offspring for mother Kufara, the calf’s birth on 11 April heralded the third generation of Southern Black Rhino to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo.
“Over the past couple of months mother and calf have formed a very strong bond behind the scenes,” Jake said. “Both are doing extremely well and Kufara is continuing to show a very strong maternal instinct. She is very protective of Mesi, and it’s been so pleasing to see her doing such a great job of caring for her little one.”
At birth Mesi weighed approximately 25-30 kilograms, and since then has grown and developed considerably, with keepers now estimating her weight at between 80-100kg. She often enjoys a gallop around her behind the scenes yard, all the while keeping close to her mother. She is getting more curious about her surroundings each day.
Zoo Keepers have developed a small ‘creep’ yard in her enclosure – a fence opening large enough for Mesi to pass through, but too small for Kufara. This allows Mesi to get close to Keepers and grow accustomed to their presence, whilst Kurafa comfortably eats hay nearby.
“By encouraging Mesi to interact closely with Zoo Keepers from a young age, we can develop a bond that will mean Mesi is comfortable with us as she continues to grow and develop into an adult Rhino,” Jake said.
Kufara and Mesi will remain behind the scenes as they continue to bond and gain in confidence, and will be on exhibit for the public to see in August.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the only zoo in Australia to have successfully bred three species of rhino – the Black Rhino and White Rhino from Africa, and the Greater One-horned Rhino from Asia.
Southern Black Rhinoceros are critically endangered with only an estimated 4000 in the wild, predominantly due to poaching. Taronga is a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, and actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India in areas including habitat protection, anti-poaching and reduction of human-rhino conflict.