Now We Know: The Gestation Period of a Southern White Rhino is 493 days

Peter Lobner

In my 21 May 2018 post, I reported on the pregnancy of the San Diego Zoo’s southern white rhino Victoria. The pregnancy was the result of artificial insemination on 22 March 2018 using the semen from another southern white rhino.  This was the first time that San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Center had been successful in initiating a southern white rhino pregnancy through artificial insemination.

The healthy baby was born on 28 July 2019 after a gestation period of 493 days.

Victoria and baby. Source: San Diego Zoo Global

You can watch a short video of Victoria, the new baby, and San Diego Zoo Global’s Dr. Barbara Durrant here:

You may recall Dr. Barbara Durrant’s 21 June 2017 presentation to the Lyncean Group (Meeting # 112), “Endangered Species Rescue: How far should we go?”   In this presentation, Dr. Durrant explained the complex process being developed at San Diego Zoo Global to use northern white rhino tissue to create artificial embryonic stem cells that can be matured into northern white rhino egg and sperm cells.  You can see her 2017 presentation here:

There are only two northern white rhinos still alive in the whole world. Both are female and beyond breeding age.  San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Centeris part of a team that is working to develop artificial insemination and embryo implantation techniques so they can reliably inseminate a northern white embryo into a southern white rhino female.  This first successful birth of a southern white rhino as a result of artificial insemination is a key milestone in the process of saving the northern white rhino from extinction.

Congratulations to the team at San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Center and to Victoria for this important and happy milestone.