Zoo Atlanta Welcomes Kiazi, a Female White Rhino

On October 11, 2021, Zoo Atlanta welcomed a 19-year-old female white rhinoceros named Kiazi. Photo submitted by Zoo Atlanta

On October 11, 2021, Atlanta Zoo welcomed a 19-year-old female white rhinoceros named Kiazi to its year-old African Savanna exhibit. 

Kiazi lived in the San Diego Wildlife Alliance before moving to Zoo Atlanta, where she now lives with Mumbles, a male white rhinoceros. Mumbles is nine years younger than Kiazi and joined the zoo’s “African Savanna Exhibit” in 2020. 

“Rhinos are animals with an urgent conservation message,” Jennifer Mickelberg, Ph.D., Vice President of Collections and Conservation at Zoo Atlanta, said in a press release. “We want [the] guests to get to know Kiazi – if they have not already been permanently charmed by [Mumbles] – so that they can understand the things [rhinos] do in their daily lives, [and] to [help] preserve these extraordinary animals in the wild.”

Preservation work is crucial for white rhinoceroses, which poachers often hunt in South Africa and Asia for their valuable horns. White rhinos are particularly vulnerable to poaching due to their color, tendency to travel in packs and open habitat. 

Due to hunting, in the early 1900s, only about 50 rhinos roamed the Earth. Conservationists insisted on policy change in South Africa, and there are now almost 18,000 rhinos

Atlanta Zoo participates in Species Survival Plan Programs (SSP), a series of frameworks organized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage endangered species like white rhinoceroses in captivity. The plans include paths to set goals for population management, breeding, and transferring animals.

Kiazi and Mumbles have been recommended to breed by the White Rhino [Species Survival Plan], so [Kiazi’s] move is via a [Species Survival Plan] recommendation,” the zoo stated on their official Twitter account. 

“The goal of [Species Survival Plans] which are in place for many species, is to ensure healthy, self-sustaining and genetically diverse animal populations for future generations.”

Moving a 3,500-pound rhinoceros over 2,000 miles across the United States was no easy task for zookeepers. They transported Kiazi in a large crate loaded on an 18-wheeler truck before releasing her into her exhibit at the Atlanta Zoo, where she met Mumbles for the first time. 

Zoo Atlanta has not announced when the public can see Kiazi. At Zoo Atlanta, rhinoceros’ have both an indoor and outdoor section of their habitat. 

Kiazi must become comfortable with the indoor section before venturing into the outdoors, where guests can view her as she roams.

The introduction process will take as long as needed, and the pace will be set by Mumbles and Kiazi,” Kate R., the zoo’s lead keeper, said in a press release. “Before Atlanta, [Mumbles lived] with two other male rhinos, so it has been some time since he has seen a female rhino. We anticipate Mumbles being excited to be housed with a female.”