Yebonga the Southern White Rhino is 49

Today we’re celebrating a very special birthday: Yebonga the Southern white rhino’s 49th! The median life expectancy for this species is 36 years, and Yebonga is considered a geriatric member of her species.

To help Yebonga celebrate her day, her keeper team made some festive enrichment. Yebonga’s “birthday cake” is a layered ice pop made with parsley, celery, carrots, oranges, cucumber, and rosemary. Throughout her habitat, the team set out browser biscuits, rosemary, mint, as well as thyme, sweet bay, mesquite and sumac browse. For sensory enrichment, chives and oregano, and peppermint scents were placed around the habitat.

She’s lived at Reid Park Zoo since she was two years old. Yebonga’s keeper Whitney describes her as a spunky old lady who loves scratches and laying in her sandy beds. Since Yebonga is an older rhino she moves very slowly most of the time but can speed up and jump around when she’s excited. To care for Yebonga in her advanced age, the team helps Yebonga maintain her horn, makes sure she has lots of cozy places to rest in her habitat, and offers her temperature-controlled spaces to help her stay comfy.

Southern white rhinos are the most populous of all rhino species with more than 20,000 individuals, but are still impacted by poaching, habitat loss, and climate change. Help celebrate Yebonga and her species by saying no to rhino horn products, a trade that impacts Yebonga’s wild counterparts.