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Zoo Hopeful “Tumani” Can Save Her Species

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  The Blank Park Zoo's baby black rhino finally has a name to match the immense expectations ahead of her in life.

On Wednesday morning the zoo announced the winning submission in a contest to name the rhino.  "Tumani" is Swahili for "hopeful."

It's a fitting name because her birth has stirred that feeling in international wildlife officials: hope for the survival of her species.

There are fewer than 800 eastern black rhinoceroses living in the wild.  There are 45 living in captivity in North America.  Tumani was the only female born in captivity in North America in 2016.

The zoo is also launching a social media campaign to celebrate Tumani's birth.  They're asking vistors to write the phrase "One More Rhino BPZ" on their hand and take a "selfie" at the rhino exhibit and post it on social media with the hashtag "#BlankParkZoo."

The zoo hopes she will follow in the footsteps of her mother and successfully breed in captivity.  She'll likely be of age to breed when she's five years old.  The gestation period for a rhinoceros is 15 months.

Tumani's name was chosen as part of a fundraising drive and an online vote.  The zoo allowed donors to suggest a name for the rhino in Swahili, the native language where black rhinos originate, in exchange for a $50 gift.

Five finalists were then chosen and put up for an online vote over the last week.  The other finalists were:

  • Tingatinga - "bulldozer"
  • Adia -"valuable"
  • Mrembo - "beautiful"
  • Kibibi - "little lady"

Tumani weighed around 80 pounds at birth.  She has already grown to over 200 pounds.