The story of this remarkable calf’s birth started in the summer of 2008, when Eesha arrived at Safari West as a four year old.
For 14 years, Safari West hoped Eesha might contribute to the growth of global rhino populations herself, but she never showed much interest in the male rhinos.
All that changed in 2021 when a new male, and proven breeder, Ongava was brought in from another zoo.
Eesha was pregnant within 6 months. There is a 16- to 18-month gestation period for rhinos. Within two years there was a calf.
Rhinos have become an integral part of Safari West’s mission of conservation education, and Safari West hopes this birth will raise awareness of the fight to protect rhinos. It’s an urgent mission.
All five species of rhino are struggling in the wild — the International Rhino Foundation’s 2022 State of the Rhino Report reveals three species are critically endangered, with two of those species having populations of less than 100 individuals left in the world.
The white rhino, the species at Safari West, is currently doing the best in the wild, but “best” means a declining population of approximately 16,000 rhinos. What has caused the decline in rhino populations? Poaching for their horns, which have perceived value as medicine and symbols of status and wealth.
In the late 1980s, Peter Lang purchased a 400-acre cattle ranch in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains in Santa Rosa, California.
His plan was to establish captive breeding programs for the varied and often critically endangered species he had been collecting. He worked closely with local zoological facilities, including the San Francisco Zoo, where he met the lead curator, raptor-specialist, and his future wife, Dr. Nancy Lang.
Combining their unique skill-sets, the pair set about turning this vast swath of oak woodland into a world-class wildlife preserve.
Peter’s love affair with wildlife has been a lifelong interest. As a boy, he spent many days running around Hollywood back lots and sound stages while his father, Otto Lang, directed films and TV shows. Many, like “Daktari” and “Sea Hunt,” featured lions and chimpanzees … animals that fascinated Peter.
In the early 1950s Peter brought lion cubs home to be hand reared. He occasionally took a lion cub on a public bus from his home in West Hollywood to Will Rodgers State Beach, the end of the line on Sunset Boulevard, where they romped on the beach and caused quite a stir. These personal encounters sparked a deep-seated passion that would eventually find expression in the hills and savannas of Safari West.
The mission of Safari West is to actively promote conservation and environmental education while imparting knowledge that helps each individual make well-informed choices in regard to the environment and wildlife conservation.
At Safari West, it’s all about the animals. Always has been, always will be.
Here are some of the residents at Safari West:
The roan antelope is one of Africa’s largest bovids. It has a grey or brown coat, a black-and-white clown-like facemask — that is darker in males than females — and long, tasseled ears. Both sexes have backward-curving horns, although they are shorter in the females.
The weight of a hornbill’s casque and bill are so heavy that their first two neck vertebrae are fused to support the weight.
Their bill is stained red-yellow and orange by preening oil from a gland at the base of their tail.
Southern ground hornbill booms are so loud they are sometimes mistaken for the roaring of lions.
Often the first sign of an approaching hornbill is the rhythmic chuffing sound made by their wings as they fly through the air, which can be heard at long range.
Grooming is an important part of social bonding. Unique to lemurs, a ‘tooth comb’ is also used for grooming. Smell is a critical form of lemur communication. Scent glands are found on their wrists and chests.