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Your morning adorable: White rhinoceros calf sticks close to mom at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

November 24, 2009 | 11:09 am

Mlelani, left, lets her newborn White Rhinoceros calf scratch on her horn

At just shy of 2 weeks old, this white rhinoceros calf, born at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida, already looks like its mother, Mlelani, in miniature (minus the horns, of course). 

The calf's birth is a boon both to Busch Gardens and to its species, which has suffered as a result of poaching in its native sub-Saharan Africa.  (In parts of Asia, the horns are believed to have medicinal benefits; in parts of Africa and the Middle East, they're used to make fancy dagger handles.)  

Fun fact: If you've noticed that the white rhinoceros is, well, gray, there may be a good reason for the naming discrepancy.  One explanation for how the species came to be called the white rhino reads rather like a game of Telephone: English settlers in Africa, confused because the Dutch and Afrikaans words for "wide" sound an awful lot like the English word "white," figured the locals were referring to the animals as "white rhinos."  In reality, the story goes, that wasn't the case at all -- they were actually referring to the rhinos' wide mouths.  Get it?

See another photo of Mlelani and her calf after the jump!

Mlelani, left, lets her newborn White Rhinoceros calf scratch on her horn

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

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