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Baby rhino born on Christmas Eve at Lansing zoo gets a festive new name

Update, Thursday, January 9:

The baby black rhino is nameless no more!

The votes have been tallied and Jaali (pronounced like "jolly") is the winner. The name means “powerful” in Swahili. It is also a fitting name for a Christmas Eve baby.


Ashleigh Winkelmann is one of the zookeepers helping to care for Jaali. She says that the two-week-old is just starting to express his personality.

“He is sassy and kind of feisty,” she says.   

Mom and baby are doing well, according to Winkelmann. When Jaali is hungry, he lets out a squeak to let his mom know to stand up and let him nurse.

“Doppsee and Jaali also spar a lot.  He loves to like play with her. He tries to climb on her,” says Winkelmann. “So they interact and it’s really fun to watch.”

The naming contest for Jaali raised more than $11,000 for the zoo’s animal health program.  

Original post, Thursday, January 3:

In Lansing, there’s a new black rhino on the block, and its name is still up for vote. 

The baby black rhino is the first of its kind to be bred at the Potter Park Zoo and is only the 54th to be cared for by a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 

"This is a monumental accomplishment for Potter Park Zoo,” said Amy Morris-Hall, executive director of the Potter Park Zoological Society. “Having him here is huge for the community, but on a larger scale black rhinos are critically endangered. There are only about 5,000 estimated to be in the wild."

The calf was born on Christmas Eve to mother 12-year-old Doppsee and father 12-year-old Phineus, and zoo officials say he is healthy and active. 

Potter Park Zoo has announced six potential names— Enzi, Azizi, Jaali, Bash, Mosi and Reggie, for the public to vote on. 

The zoo explains the meaning of each name: 

  • Enzi [Ehnziy]: "the world" or "powerful" in Swahili.
  • Azizi [Aa-ziy-ziy]: "precious treasure" in Swahili. 
  • Jaali [Jhaaaly]: "powerful" in Swahili. 
  • Bash: Forerunner in Afrikaans.
  • Mosi [Mowsiy]: "the first born" in Swahili.
  • Reggie: Simply, Reggie. 

You can vote for you favorite rhino calf name by making a donation to Potter Park Zoo. Make sure to get your vote in by Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. You can stay up to date on the rankings of each name on Potter Park Zoo's Facebook Page

Every $5 donated counts as a vote toward the donors chosen name. All donations will go toward further development of the zoo’s animal health program.

Additionally, at the end of the naming contest three individuals will win exclusive Rhino Artwork made by one of the zoo’s rhinos. The three winners will be drawn randomly from those who voted.

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