By Alyssa Mechler
The black rhino calf born Jan. 20 at Lee Richardson Zoo has received his name through a public voting contest at the zoo. The youngster is named Ayubu, which is Swahili for perseverance.

On Jan. 20, Eastern Black Rhinoceros Johari gave birth to her first calf. Weighing in at 93 pounds at only four days new, the calf took the zoo by storm. He has been seen sparring with mom, snorting, and investigating anything and everything. The zoo reached out to the public to ask for their help in naming the new calf by voting for one of four names.

The potential names were, Ayubu, a Swahili word meaning perseverance during difficult times; Faru, meaning tank, the little one is built like a tank; Mkali, meaning fierce, he showed just how fierce he was at only a few days old when he began sparring with mom and shaking his head at those around him; and Moyo, meaning heart, from the moment he arrived he stole everyone’s heart. While all four names were fitting for the rhino calf, only one could win, and Ayubu it is!

The name Ayubu is fitting for the rhino calf as he was born during a pandemic and we are all persevering through these difficult times. It is also fitting because the black rhinos are critically endangered, and his birth is helping to preserve the species. Ayubu the rhino calf is a great ambassador for his species, the Eastern Black Rhinoceros, the rarest of the subspecies. They are critically endangered with ~600 individuals left in the wild. Ayubu is Johari and Jabari’s (mom and dad) first calf and is a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP).

The SSP is a population management and conservation program that works to maintain genetically diverse populations in zoos. Eventually, Ayubu will go on to another facility where he will continue to help with the genetic diversity of Eastern Black Rhinos. A rhino calf will stay with its mother for up to three years before going off on its own. We look forward to watching Ayubu grow and learn all things rhino from his mom.

Ayubu is currently inside with Johari; he is doing well and growing like a weed. While they are inside bonding, Jabari can be seen outside when the weather is nice. Be sure to watch Lee Richardson Zoo’s Facebook page for video and photo updates of Ayubu!

Alyssa Mechler is a conservation education specialist at Lee Richardson Zoo.