January 3, 2024 – Toronto Zoo received a special post-holiday surprise – a white rhino calf born at 7:58 am on Thursday, December 28, 2023!

Sabi, the proud mother, faced fertility challenges due to extended estrus cycles (~70 days in length, compared to the typical ~30 days of fertile females), but after tireless efforts from the Reproductive Science teams, she successfully conceived in summer 2022. Sabi, who arrived in 2012, welcomed this as her first calf, but for the father, Tom, this was the second calf sired by the 15-year-old rhino. His first calf, Theo, was born December 24, 2017, and left Toronto in late 2021.

Dr. Gabriela Mastromonaco, Senior Director of Wildlife Science, emphasized the importance of holistic animal well-being in successful breeding programs: “With fertility challenges being a significant concern for conservation breeding programs, your Toronto Zoo focuses on a holistic approach to well-being that brings together our wildlife care and science teams to develop treatment plans that support individual animal needs. We are excited to see our teams’ efforts rewarded with the new addition to our rhino family.” 

The Wildlife Health team will conduct a health check on the male calf, born after Sabi’s 16-month gestation period. The Wildlife Care team’s dedication, including voluntary ultrasound examinations, ensured a healthy pregnancy.

Dolf DeJong, CEO of Toronto Zoo, praised the team’s dedication, highlighting overnight shifts and meticulous care during Sabi’s pregnancy: “Staff have been working overnight shifts to make sure someone was always with Sabi through the later stages of her pregnancy. They’ve been “baby-proofing” the habitat and the veterinarian team have been keeping a very close eye on her, particularly over the last few months to ensure we did everything possible to help bring a healthy calf into the world.”

Staff have determined to give Sabi and her calf lots of space to bond, so the community won’t be able to view the duo until the spring. For now, those wishing to see the new White Rhino have been provided with this video from the zoo:

This joyful occasion not only excites the community but also contributes to rhino conservation. White rhinos, listed as Near Threatened, face declining numbers due to habitat loss and poaching.

In celebration, the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy launched the Wilding Rhino Conservation Fund. Donations support organizations like the International Rhino Foundation, aiding wild rhino populations. Contribute at www.wildlifeconservancy.ca/baby.

Join the holiday spirit by gifting enrichment items to the white rhino family at www.tzwcadopt.ca/pages/white-rhinos. Let’s celebrate this new addition and support rhino conservation efforts together!