Now 7 weeks old, 254-pound black rhino Moyo will be offered daily access to the public habitat in River’s Edge during Zoo hours. The zoo stresses visitors need to be patient and understand that Moyo is exploring his new habitat at his own pace and might not venture into the public habitat.
“We care very much about making sure Moyo and his mother, Kati Rain, are comfortable in their habitat, so they are given the choice to stay in or go out,” St. Louis Zoo public relations director Billy Brennan said.
Moyo didn’t venture into the public habitat on Wednesday, disappointing many guests and members of the media. St. Louis Zoo administrators are hoping to have a reliable schedule for their outside appearances later this summer.
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Moyo (pronounced MOY-oh), which means “heart” in Swahili, was characterized as “a little tank who likes to run around and explore his surroundings,” by St. Louis Zoo Rivers Edge keeper Jennifer Stirnemann. Moyo is the second offspring for the 13-year-old black rhinos Kati Rain and father Ajabu (pronounced ah-JAH-boo). Stirnemann said that Moyo is rambunctious and independent at times, but waits for mom’s approval.
“They are a pair. Where mom goes, baby goes. Where baby goes, mom goes.”
Moyo will gain about six pounds daily for the first year and then drastically slow down after that. Stirnemann, who has a 10-month-old child at home, said, “everything I am doing with my 10-month-old at home I feel like I am doing at work as well. We were baby proofing at home and now we’re baby proofing at work. It is very exciting to see how all of our work over the last two years is coming to fruition.”
Black rhinos are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching for their horns, and to a lesser extent by loss of habitat. Current estimates show 5,055 individual black rhinos are alive in the wild.
The Saint Louis Zoo’s black rhinos are part of a program to manage a genetically healthy population of black rhinos in North American zoos. With the addition of Moyo, there are currently 60 eastern black rhinos in 26 Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions.