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Potter Park Zoo celebrates Jaali’s first birthday

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Posted at 1:25 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 13:25:23-05

LANSING, Mich. — Potter Park Zoo is celebrating the first birthday black rhino, Jaali.

On Dec. 24, 2019, at 5:40 a.m., Potter Park Zoo welcomed a 70-pound male black rhino calf. After a public vote, he was named Jaali and has since grown to over 900 pounds.

Jaali made worldwide headlines last year, as he is one of the very few of the critically endangered species born at zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 2020.

The birth was the first for Jaali’s mother, Doppsee.

Doppsee and Jaali’s father Phineus first met more than two years ago at Potter Park Zoo in May of 2018. After the successful introduction, years of preparation, monitoring the pregnancy, birth, and care followed in collaboration with rhino and veterinary experts from around the country.

“He’s just so calm and patient like his mom,” Hoofstock Area Lead Zookeeper Kim Hernandez said. “He has a quiet demeanor about him, and he’s very curious.”

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) there are only 5,000 black rhinos remaining in the wild and only about 60 at AZA-accredited zoos in the United States.

“Working with Jaali has been completely rewarding,” Zookeeper Amy Pierce said. “It’s super amazing to work with an animal that only three are born in AZA zoos every year.”

Jaali has a long way to go to catch up to his mom, as Doppsee weighs 2,800 pounds. In the wild, black rhinos stay with their mothers for two to three years, so Jaali will be at Potter Park Zoo for at least another year.

To celebrate Jaali’s first year, the Lansing Lugnuts are selling t-shirts with 50% of proceeds going directly to the Potter Park Zoo.

Jaali (pronounced jolly) means “powerful” in Swahili.

Watch highlights of Jaali’s first trip around the sun in the video from Kaiti Chritz of Potter Park Zoo below.

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