White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum)

White rhinoceros

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Fast facts

Status Near Threatened

Size Male head and body length: 3.7-4 m. Female head to body length: 3.4-3.65 m. Tail length: 70cm

Weight Male: 3-3.5 tonnes. Female: 1.5- 2 tonnes

Gestation 16 months

Young 1

Life span 30- 35 years in the wild, up to 50 years in captivity

What do I eat?

White rhinos are herbivores and will graze on large quantities of different types of grass. These animals can be seen drinking water almost daily in the wild, but they can survive up to 4-5 days without water during the dry seasons.

They are mostly active during the day (diurnal) and will spend much of their time feeding, resting and also wallowing.

Where do I live?

They are found within grasslands, savannas and shrub lands in Southern Africa. White rhinos prefer areas that have bush for cover, as well as areas for grazing and a water source nearby.


White rhinos do not have a breeding season, as they are able to mate throughout the year.

Females will give birth to a single calf; a rhino calf is active soon after birth and would have taken its first steps and feed from mum within its first hour of life. Rhino calves are weaned from 1-2 years, and will stay with their mothers for 2-3 years; usually until the next calf is born. They are fully mature and able to breed by 6 - 8 years of age.


Adults are rarely targeted due to their size, but young rhino calves can be hunted by various predators including lions, wild dogs and crocodiles. Rhino calves are especially vulnerable to predators if they stray too far from their mother. The females will use their horns to protect their young from potential threats.


The white rhino has suffered from habitat loss and poaching for the rhino horn trade. Rhino horn has been in demand for the use in traditional medicines and for ornaments for centuries.

Many white rhinos are now found within national parks and conservation areas with intensive protection zones. Sadly poachers still remain an ever-present threat, so these rhinos are still vulnerable and conservation efforts for this species must continue if it is to survive.

Did you know?

The name ‘white’ comes from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’ which means wide; referring to the wide square lip of the white rhino, which also links to its other name the “square lipped rhinoceros”.

White rhinos are the most social of the rhino family, as they can be seen in groups of 2-5 rhinos; and a group of rhinos is known as a ‘crash’.

White rhinos have two horns; the length of the first (and longest) horn is on average 60cm but can sometimes reach 150cm.

Rhino horn is made from a protein called ‘keratin’, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails.


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Having this be my 1st time coming to the zoo (I'm 31), I found it to be amazing! Could've walked around countless times and the animals are stunning.Helen, 3rd September 2015