Cincinnati Zoo's baby rhino Kendi starts to venture outside

Mother Seyia is being protective

CINCINNATI -- You aren't the only one with an overprotective mother: The Cincinnati Zoo's baby rhino is venturing outside, but his mama isn't quite comfortable letting go.

Seyia, an Eastern black rhino, gave birth to baby boy Kendi three weeks ago. They've been nursing, napping and bonding the scenes, and they just started making brief appearances in their outdoor habitat.

"Kendi is a brave little guy and would probably run all over the yard if his mom would let him," senior Veldt keeper Marjorie Barthel said in a news release. "She's a first-time mom and is being protective. They have access to go outside and do walk out occasionally, but it will take time for mom to feel comfortable enough to let Kendi explore the entire outdoor space."

Barthel said Kendi is starting to go after solid foods, so keepers are cutting it into tiny bits.

"He also likes to play in the water trough," Barthel said. "We can't wait to see him discover mud."

Kendi's dad, Faru, is out in his neighboring yard, but there are no plans for a family reunion: Black rhinos are solitary animals.

Kendi is only the fifth Eastern black rhino born in the last two years in North America and the first to be born at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1999. There are fewer than 60 of his species in the North American zoo population.

The species is critically endangered because of poaching and habitat loss.  Fewer than 5,000 black rhinos remain in the world.

Eastern black rhinos, native to eastern and central Africa, have two large horns made of keratin that they use for defense, intimidation and feeding. An adult can weigh between 1,760 and 3,080 pounds, and calves weigh between 73 and 121 pounds.

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