BALTIMORE — Meet J.P. and Jelani.
Those are the names chosen for two southern white rhinos that made their debut earlier this spring at the Maryland Zoo.
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J.P. stands for James Paul, in honor of Gabrielle Melka’s father. Melka won a silent auction at the All for Animals event for a chance to name one of the rhino's.
Arthur Starr chose the name Jelani which means great or powerful in Swahili, after winning a raffle earlier this month.
The two fundraisers made $37,500, according to the zoo.
“J.P. and Jelani, both four-years-old, are very agile, intelligent animals,” said Erin Grimm, mammal collection and conservation manager at the Zoo. “They have acclimated well to their new home and their animal care team. We are all really excited to be able to call them by their new names!”
Southern white rhinos are classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN, the world’s leading conservation organization. Their numbers have improved significantly since the early 20th century when they were thought to be extinct, but their future in the wild is far from guaranteed. Southern white rhinos live almost exclusively in the country of South Africa, inhabiting the grassland and savannas.