Critically endangered baby rhino born at the Oregon Zoo

Jozi, a critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros, gave birth on Dec. 4, 2023.

Jozi, a critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, gave birth on Dec. 4, 2023.Photo by Virginia Grimley, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

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There is exactly one time in a rhino’s life when people may look upon it and say, “Aww, what a cute rhino!”

That time, of course, is babyhood, and good news for the people of Portland: For one little rhino at the Oregon Zoo, that time is now.

According to a press release, the zoo’s female eastern black rhino Jozi gave birth to the little gray bundle of joy on Dec. 4 at about 9:30 p.m. Both Jozi and the baby are doing well, the zoo said, in their out-of-view maternity den. They are doing so well, in fact, that zoo keepers have yet to do a veterinary check and have not determined the sex of the calf.

“The most satisfying thing for me is to see Jozi taking such great care of her baby,” said Chad Harmon, who supervises the zoo’s rhino area, in the press release. “These first few days are especially critical, so we’re being very cautious and giving them as much quiet time as possible.”

Read more: Oregon Zoo elephant expecting a baby that won’t be born until 2025

Newborn rhinos generally weigh about 100 pounds but by the time guests are allowed to see this new rhino in person, the baby will be even bigger than that. The weather will have to get warmer, the zoo said, before mom and baby can start to explore the outside Rhino Ridge area.

Jozi and the new baby’s father, King, are part of the critically endangered eastern subspecies of black rhinoceros, making the new baby a significant event not just for the Oregon Zoo but for the entire species.

“Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade have wiped out 96% of the world’s black rhino population,” said Kelly Gomez, who oversees the zoo’s Africa area, in the press release. “In South Africa alone, we’re losing almost a rhino a day. Hopefully, their story can help inspire a new chapter in the conservation of this incredible species.”

— Lizzy Acker

503-221-8052;; @lizzzyacker

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