The baby is “healthy, confident and full of energy,” the zoo staff says, adding, “Livia is an excellent mother, very attentive and protective of her offspring.”
But it’s a far different story for the species’ northern cousins, whose population has been devastated by poaching for their horns and other body parts. There are just two northern white rhinos left, a mother-daughter pair living in a conservancy in Kenya. Neither have been able to carry a pregnancy to term.
That’s where Livia — the San Diego Zoo’s newborn calf’s mother — comes in. Her successful pregnancy means that she may be a candidate to carry a northern white rhino embryo in the future.
“Livia is now among the female rhinos at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center who could potentially serve in the future as a surrogate mother to a northern white embryo,” says the release.
Someday, these cell lines may be used to create northern white rhino sperm and egg cells, leading to embryos that could be implanted in surrogate mothers like Livia, says the news release.
“All rhino births are significant,” the zoo adds.