A King-Sized Celebration

Lincoln Park Zoo observed a big milestone this week as baby black rhino King celebrated his first birthday on August 26.

As you’d expect, the party was a lot of fun. Our Volunteer Enrichment Group outdid themselves making a rhino-sized birthday cake. Our caregivers set up eight cardboard “slices” in the exhibit shared by King and mom Kapuki, covering them with tasty browse and raising a towering cardboard “candle” to mark the event.

Mom Kapuki and baby rhino King enjoy some outsized enrichment to celebrate his first birthday!

As is true with most first birthday parties, mom may have enjoyed the festivities more than the 1-year-old. Kapuki waded into the enrichment, nibbling at the branches and eventually toppling candle and cake. King hung back, only occasionally nosing at the treats in his honor. He may now weigh more than 1,000 pounds, but this maturing rhino is still happy to let mom take the lead.

King chews a bit of the browse from his birthday cake.

King chews a bit of the browse from his birthday cake.

Of course, while the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit was a scene of joy this week, the situation for rhinos in the wild isn’t happy at all. Rhino species including the eastern black rhinoceros, which King represents, are undergoing a conservation crisis as poachers butcher them for the illegal—and senseless—black market for their horns. As the International Rhino Foundation shared in its recent Zoo Partners Mid-Year Report, this year’s poaching deaths for rhinos in South Africa are almost certain to be equal to, if not higher than, last year’s record losses.

Lincoln Park Zoo is doing its part to conserve this endangered, amazing species. Beyond caring for King and partnering with zoos across the country through the Eastern Black Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan®, we’ve also conducted research in South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park, collecting data on rhino reproduction and sleep that can aid conservation.

A rhino snoozes in front of a camera trap at the zoo's research site in South Africa's Addo Elephant National Park.

A rhino snoozes in front of a camera trap at the zoo's research site in South Africa's Addo Elephant National Park.

Our local chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers also just hosted their annual Bowling for Rhinos fundraiser, collecting more than $15,000 to fund rhino conservation in Africa. I’m proud of them for taking it upon themselves to do more for animals when they already do so much to care for them every day.

Ultimately, while King is safe to celebrate at Lincoln Park Zoo, rhinos in the wild need our help. Your support—for the zoo and other conservation organizations around the globe—is essential as we try to ensure rhinos have more milestones to celebrate.

Kevin Bell

Learn More

Baby rhino King and mom Kapuki trot around the outdoor yard at the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit.

King Grows Up
Follow the growth of the zoo's baby rhino, King, in this special slideshow, which tracks his development from birth to today!

The baby rhino behind the scenes

Post from the President—A Big Baby
A male black rhino was born August 26 at the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit, President and CEO Kevin Bell shares. The new arrival—a welcome one for an endangered species--is bonding with mom behind the scenes.



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