NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Zoo has a name for its newest rhino baby: Letti!
The name was inspired by Sergeant Nkateko Letti Mzimba of the Black Mambas, the first all-female anti-poaching organization in South Africa. Mzimba was named the best field ranger in Africa in 2023 for her efforts to protect rhinos and other animals.
“When our Africa keepers learned this special little calf was a girl, they knew they wanted to name her after a powerful female who is making a difference in saving wildlife, just as this baby will make a difference in the future conservation of her species,” the zoo said in an update Monday.
The zoo’s hoping Letti’s name brings more awareness to the Black Mambas and other conservation groups in Africa.
“Naming an animal, especially one of the most popular species in a zoo, is such an important thing because it has the potential to reach so many people with a positive message and create healthy dialog,” added Emily Spence, Assistant Curator of Africa. We can’t wait to see the ways Lettie, and her brother Mosi, will impact the education and conservation of rhinos for years to come!”
Letti, who was born on November 9, is just the second ever rhino born at the Virginia Zoo. Her mother, 10-year-old Zina, and father, 17-year-old Sibindi, had their first calf Mosi in 2021.