18 April 2024

A 100kg baby rhino has well and truly found its feet after being pictured running and jumping around its 21-acre paddock at the Zoo.    

The six-week-old calf, born on 7 March to mum Jaseera, has only just begun to venture out of its indoor cosy den, but already appears to be a big fan of the great outdoors.  

Rhino Keeper Michael Hepher said the southern white rhino calf loves to play with the rest of the herd, before snuggling up to mum Jaseera.  

“When he’s not playing with the other rhinos, he loves to sleep and eat, and like any newborn he still needs regular naps! At six-weeks old he’s getting bolder by the day. While he started out quite wobbly on his feet, he’s now firmly found his stride.”

We're a part of global conservation charity ZSL, which works around the world to protect endangered species and their habitats. The rhino calf has been named Benja by ZSL’s conservationists in Kenya, where they are part of efforts to protect rhinos and other species with partners including the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Tsavo Trust.  

Michael added: “As well as being an important addition to the conservation breeding programme for his species, Benja is a great ambassador helping to educate the public about rhinos in the wild and inspire them to support our conservation efforts.  

“ZSL has an amazing legacy of protecting rhinos in the wild.  Sadly, there’s only around 350 black rhinos left in Kenya today due to poaching and habitat loss. Similarly white rhinos, like our little Benja, are facing the same threats of poaching and habitat loss in South Africa in the wild, with 500 killed last year for their horns.” 

Baby rhino running through the grass field
© Whipsnade Zoo
Baby rhino stands next to Mum, lifting head up to her in grass paddock.
© Whipsnade Zoo
Baby rhino explores the UK’s largest zoo.

ZSL Kenya Country Manager Gurveena Ghataure said the field team chose the name Benja, in honour of the dominant black rhino bull who lives in the Tsavo Conservation Area where ZSL works.

“Benja is a highly distinguished rhino, with his name symbolising resilience. He is an incredible champion for these iconic creatures, and we felt this was the ideal name for the new calf at Whipsnade Zoo,” she said.  

Gurveena explained that Benja, in the Tsavo herd, is known for his irresistible allure and courtship tactics which attract females like moths to a flame.  

“Benja is very calm and measured. He loves to browse amid the acacias, an African tree, or quench his thirst at local waterholes. We hope baby Benja is as enchanting as his namesake and has a long successful breeding future ahead of him, to help conserve these magnificent animals.”

Every visit to meet baby Benja and the crash of rhinos at Whipsnade Zoo, supports the work of ZSL’s conservation teams around the world. 

If you treat your herd to a family membership, you’ll have already got your money’s worth around your second visit, and made tons of new memories too!

*Based on the average zoo admission prices for one or two adults with two children in relation to the family membership Direct Debit fee.

Animals at the Zoo

  • Asian elephant at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
    Elephas maximus

    Asian elephant

    Asian elephants are more closely related to the extinct woolly mammoth than to the African elephant.

  • Amur tiger at Whipsnade Zoo
    Panthera tigris altaica

    Amur tiger

    The largest and heaviest of the world’s big cats, as well as the heaviest, by the 1940s, fewer than 40 Amur tigers were thought to remain in the wild

  • Chimps eating at Whipsnade Zoo
    Pan troglodytes


    Chimps are more closely related to humans than gorillas, and you can watch our chimps regularly use tools at the Zoo.

  • Ruby the red panda in a tree at Whipsnade Zoo
    Ailurus fulgens

    Red panda

    A red panda's diet mainly consists of bamboo, and they have thick fur to protect them from their rainy, mountainous habitat in the Himalayas

  • Ricky the rockhopper penguin at Whipsnade Zoo
    Eudyptes moseleyi

    Rockhopper penguin

    These small penguins pack in a big personality, and Ricky the rockhopper penguin is one of our most famous animals.