Home / National News / Zoo’s Rhino Named Ethan After Ala. Boy Rescued from Bunker


(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) — The first rhino calf to thrive after being conceived through artificial insemination in North America has been named after the Alabama boy who was rescued from a bunker in February.

The Montgomery Zoo in Alabama announced it named its baby Indian rhino after Ethan Gilman, the 6-year-old who was held against his will by Jimmy Lee Dykes in an underground bunker for nearly a week in Midland City, Ala.

“It was a significant birth to the species of the rhino, and Ethan’s rescue was very significant,” Montgomery Zoo’s deputy director, Marcia Woodard, told ABC News. “What better way to connect that type of happening with the boy who was held in the bunker and was rescued?”

Woodard said Ethan visited the Montgomery Zoo a few days after his rescue and bonded with the zoo’s female rhino, Jeta, who was pregnant at the time.

“He’s a cute rhino, and it sounds like Ethan is a very cute, special boy,” said Dr. Monica Stoops, a Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden scientist, who worked with the Montgomery Zoo to facilitate the artificial insemination of the rhinos.

Ethan, the rhino calf, was born at the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama on June 5, weighing 90 pounds.

At two weeks old, Ethan already weighed in at 181 pounds. Stoops said he would reach mature weight by 8 years old, topping the scale at approximately 3,800 pounds.

Stoops said the zoos have started using artificial insemination for rhino breeding because the species tends to be naturally aggressive with courtship behavior, which can lead to injuries or death in some rhinos.

There are less than 2,500 Indian rhinos in the wild, and only 60 in captivity in North America, Stoops said.

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