Rhino Calf Arrives in Time for World Rhino Day

1_Whipsnade Rhino Calf

Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are celebrating the birth of a Greater One-Horned Rhino calf.

Weighing in at a whopping 76kg (almost 12 stone or 167 lbs.), the calf, which keepers have named Bali (Nepali for ‘strong’) was born on the evening of September 6th, after a 17-month gestation. This is the fourth calf for 19-year-old mother, Behan. Her other calves have all moved to other Zoos to breed, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

2_Whipsnade Rhino Calf

3_Whipsnade Rhino Calf

4_Whipsnade Rhino CalfPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Bali is the 14th Greater One-Horned Rhino calf to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, which has an exceptional record with its breeding programme for the species. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was one of the first Zoos in the world to breed the species in 1957. ln the past 12 months, there have been only four Greater One-Horned Rhino births in three European zoos, with only one other in the United States of America. Young Bali was born just in time to celebrate World Rhino Day on September 22nd.

Deputy Team Leader Veronica Watkins, said, “The whole team is very excited to see the safe arrival of our newest rhino. To be involved in bringing one of these endangered animals into the world makes all of our efforts feel worthwhile, and it makes celebrating World Rhino Day this year feel extra special.

“The labour was relatively straightforward. Behan was restless the previous night so we suspected the birth was imminent, but once her waters broke we were able to monitor her carefully through CCTV cameras, without interfering in the process.

“The following day Bali was up and about, looking around at everything inquisitively. Behan, who has always been an excellent mother to her calves, was staying very close to him.”

Continue reading "Rhino Calf Arrives in Time for World Rhino Day" »

First Indian Rhino Calf of 2015 at Hellabrunn Zoo

1_Panzernashornbaby_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller (3) On September 9, a recently born Indian Rhinoceros baby was finally presented to the public, at Hellabrunn Zoo, offering visitors an opportunity to see the first Indian Rhinoceros born, worldwide, in a zoo in 2015. Mama rhino Rapti and her calf can now be seen in the Rhino House and its outdoor enclosure, at the Munich zoo.

2_Panzernashorn Jungtier_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller_20

3_Panzernashornbaby_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller (4)

4_Panzernashornbaby_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller (1)Photo Credits: Hellabrunn Zoo / Marc Müller

He is one of the last of his species, but fortunately the little rhino bull is not aware of how important he is. He runs and romps in his enclosure full of energy, enjoying the sun and from time to time giving mama Rapti several nudges and prods as a way of pestering her to come and play. As with most baby rhinoceros, this storm and stress phase is usually followed by moments of calm, when the little rhino lies down for a rest.

The yet to be named young bull was born at Hellabrunn Zoo on August 31, 2015 at 9:01 am. Since then, his mother Rapti has been looking after him with patience and care. He regularly nurses and receives a lot of body contact from her. He has not yet met his father, Niko, who also lives at Hellabrunn.

Three days after the birth, the baby rhino suddenly appeared to be in a weakened state. Zoo veterinarian’s and staff made a quick decision to keep the mother and child behind the scenes for a little longer and initiate intensive treatment. He was monitored around the clock by the keepers and examined and treated several times daily by the vets. The newborn calf was quickly back on his feet and was eventually given the all-clear.

There are currently just under 3,000 Indian Rhinoceroses (Rhinoceros unicornis) left on the planet, of which, just over 200 live in zoos. "The rhino bull is of great importance for the global conservation breeding programme," says Hellabrunn zoo director Rasem Baban, underlining the importance of breeding for conservation. "Hopefully he will bear many offspring."

The Indian Rhino is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In addition to habitat loss, the rhino population has been brought close to extinction by hunting, primarily for their horn. The rhino horn - in the powdered form - is highly valued in traditional Asian medicine, even though it has no proven medical benefit, since the horn mostly consists of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair. The threat makes conservation breeding in zoos all the more important. There are only five zoos in Germany that keep Indian Rhinoceroses. Rapti, who was born in Nepal, is therefore particularly important for the gene pool of Indian Rhinos living in zoos. Her genes have now been successfully passed on to the newborn bull.

Continue reading "First Indian Rhino Calf of 2015 at Hellabrunn Zoo" »

White Rhino Girl Born at Tel Aviv Safari


On August 24, Keren Peles, a 6-year old White Rhinoceros at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan in Israel, gave birth for the first time. The healthy female calf has been named Kipenzi (beloved). It is a tradition, at the Safari, to give offspring monikers starting with the same letter as their mother’s name.



4_0927_2015_08_28_011Photo credits: Tibor Jager

Keren Peles arrived at the Safari about three years ago from Pretoria, South Africa, for reproduction purposes, with the aim of introducing a new blood line into the Safari's White Rhino group. The happy father of the new calf is 35-year old Atari, who is said to have been quite smitten with Keren Peles from the moment they met.

The calf's vital signs appear strong, and she remains close to her mother in a grove of trees in the African area. To the zookeeper's joy, shortly after birth, the calf was seen on its legs and suckling.

The new calf is the 27th born in the Safari. The Safari's contribution to the zoo population of White Rhinos is considerable, and the hope remains that one day it will be possible to help the wild population in Africa whose numbers are steadily declining.

The White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is the largest species of rhino and consists of two sub-species: southern and northern. The Safari belongs to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s reproduction program. 

More pics below the fold!

Continue reading "White Rhino Girl Born at Tel Aviv Safari" »

Rhino Calf ‘Crashes’ the Party at Cotswold Wildlife Park

1_Baby Rhino resting on mother's horn

On August 18, Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, had a rather unexpected arrival. Their Southern White Rhino, Nancy, gave birth to her second calf. Keepers knew Nancy was pregnant, but the actual time of birth came as a bit of a surprise and was a little earlier than expected.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only fourteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months. Cotswold Wildlife Park was responsible for two out of the three recorded UK births. The new addition is the sixth member to join the ‘crash’ (the collective noun for a group of Rhinos).  

2_Baby Rhino paddock 1

3_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (9)

4_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (6)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 Curator Jamie Craig commented: “After almost forty years of desperately trying to breed from our old group of Rhinos with no success, we are delighted to now have had three calves since 2013. The newest member of the crash was somewhat more of a surprise than we’d like, but at present, all seems to be going well.”

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family. In 2013, first-time parents, Monty and Nancy (both nine years old), delighted staff and visitors when they produced the first calf in the Park’s forty-three year history - a female named Astrid. Two years later, she has been joined by a baby brother, who is yet to be named. To add to the celebrations, earlier this year, another of the Park’s breeding females, Ruby, gave birth to a male calf, named Ian.

Southern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum) are the largest of the five Rhino subspecies and range throughout the grassland of Southern Africa. They are currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List and have always been an important species at Cotswold Wildlife Park, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970. His son Reggie Heyworth, Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, commented: “You wait forty years, then it seems like three come along at once!  This is such a happy event for the Park, and I have to pinch myself when I see six rhinos on the lawn.”

Continue reading "Rhino Calf ‘Crashes’ the Party at Cotswold Wildlife Park" »

Rhino Calf Charges Into Lowry Park Zoo

Africa white rhino Alake and calf may 27 2015

A baby Southern White Rhinoceros born May 21 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has increased the zoo’s herd by one, but the wild population of these magnificent beasts grows smaller every day.

Africa white rhino Alake and calf 2 may 27 2015

Africa white rhino calf 1 may 27 2015
Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo



The female calf is already important to the breeding population because she carries the genes of her mother Alaka, who came to the zoo from Africa.  Introducing new bloodlines is important for maintaining genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population.  The newborn marks the fourth successful Southern White Rhino birth and the seventh Rhino born in the zoo’s history.

The zoo is currently home to a herd of five Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, and the newborn. In keeping with a natural herd structure, Alake and her calf have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and Grevy’s Zebras that share their habitat.

The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, with the largest in the front. Unlike some Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horns to protect their young while males use them to battle each other. Adult White Rhinos can reach weights of about 5,000 pounds, with most calves weighing between 80-140 pounds.

While the birth is welcome news for the managed population, record numbers of Rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year. Despite increased protection efforts, the number of Rhinos killed by poachers jumped 21 percent to 1,215. The current poaching crisis is driven by the demand for Rhino horn in Southeast Asia where horn, which is made up of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is believed to have medicinal properties.   

See more photos of the Rhino calf below.

Continue reading "Rhino Calf Charges Into Lowry Park Zoo" »

Boisterous Black Rhino Boy Makes Debut

1_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (7)

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is thrilled to announce the arrival of a male Black Rhino calf, born in the very early hours of Monday April 20th

2_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (1)

3_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (4)

4_Black Rhino calf by Rick Stevens May 2015 (8)Photo Credits: Rick Stevens /Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The yet-to-be-named arrival is the second calf born to mother ‘Bakhita’, and the third calf born in 10 years to the Zoo’s internationally renowned breeding program for this critically endangered species.

“With just over 4,000 Black Rhinos remaining, and all five rhino species under enormous pressure in the wild, every birth is critical,” said General Manager, Matthew Fuller.

“This little rhino is precious, as are all rhinos, and we’re hopeful that his birth will further highlight the need to protect these remarkable creatures.”

The calf, which weighs between 30-40kg, has already captured the hearts of zookeepers. His birth, ahead of Mother’s Day, is a great reminder of the achievements of the remarkable wild mothers in the zoo’s care.

“At three weeks of age, he is very confident and bold,” Keeper Jake Williams said. “He is full of energy and likes to run flat out around his yard, first thing in the morning, sometimes venturing 15-20 meters from Bakhita before galloping back to her. He is a strong calf and doesn’t show much fear.”

Mr. Williams said experienced mother Bakhita is taking things in her stride.

“She’s doing all the right things. She is alert when keepers approach her yard and is protective of her calf, but she quickly settles. She is a pretty relaxed mother.”

Bakhita and the calf will remain behind the scenes for the coming weeks, where they can continue to bond, before going on public display in June.

Continue reading "Boisterous Black Rhino Boy Makes Debut" »

UPDATE: Rhino Calf's Horn Starts to Sprout!


An Eastern Black Rhinoceros calf born on December 28 at Switzerland’s Zoo Zurich is out to prove that she’s growing up.  Not only is this little female calf, named Olmoti, starting to grow her horn, she’s also practicing her charging skills, as seen in the video below.

11043098_922767824441190_1390896438203456598_oPhoto Credit:  Zoo Zurich/Enzo Franchini

Video Credit:  Nicole Schnyder

You first met Olmoti
here shortly after her birth.  Now over two months old, her horn is beginning to grow on her snout.  You can see the little “button” that will slowly grow into a horn. 

In the video, Olmoti charges at her mother in little bursts, a skill all Rhinos use as a defense against unfamiliar things. Rhinos have relatively poor eyesight, so when taken by surprise, they may rush at people, vehicles, stationary objects, or other Rhinos to frighten them off.

Unfortunately for Rhinos, their horns led to a 96% loss in population from the 1970s to the 1990s, putting these unique animals on the brink of extinction.  Demand for Rhino horn, which is made of keratin like your hair and fingernails, has exploded in the last 40 years.  Sold on illegal markets, Rhino horn is used in traditional Asian medicine and for traditional dagger handles in Yemen. 

Thanks to enhanced protection and Yemen signing the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Black Rhino populations are slowly increasing.  However, these animals are still Critically Endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  

Black Rhino Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

Baby black rhino born at Chester Zoo (1)The amazing moment of a Rhino giving birth has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo. The 50-second footage shows the mother deliver her newborn and the tender first moments as she checks over her calf. 



10980701_10153007305125912_5799333752593217516_nPhoto Credits: Chester Zoo

Born on January 31st, the female calf, which keepers have named ‘Fara’, is the offspring of 17-year-old ‘Kitani’ and 15-year-old dad, ‘Sammy’. 

Sammy’s genes are extremely valuable as he has never before sired a calf since moving from Japan in 2002 to join the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for the critically endangered animals. 

Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said, “Kitani’s delivery was textbook. We got a ‘maternity suite’ ready for her with deep sandy floors and beds of hay but ultimately she chose her own spot.

“The footage has enabled us to witness this really special moment and both mum and youngster are doing really, really well.

“Every birth is cause for great celebration but given that Eastern Black Rhino face a real threat of extinction our new arrival is even more significant. The calf is super important to the breeding programme in Europe and her arrival is another step towards sustaining a black rhino population which, in the wild, is being ravaged by poachers on an almost daily basis.”  

In the wild there are thought to be less than 650 Eastern Black Rhinos remaining, pushing the species perilously close to extinction.

Numbers in Africa are plummeting as a result of a dramatic surge in illegal poaching, fuelled by a global increase in demand for Rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market.

The problem is being driven by the astonishing street value of Rhino horn, which is currently worth more per gram than gold and cocaine.

Continue reading "Black Rhino Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo" »

Rhino Calf is Zoo's First in 35 Years

A Rhinoceros calf born at the Copenhagen Zoo is the first of this endangered species to be born at the zoo in 35 years.


1553143_940214189323729_7810544619005624505_oPhoto Credit:  Copenhagen Zoo

The calf appears healthy and is nursing well from its mother.  Just moments after birth, the 110-pound (50kg) calf took its first steps.  Zoo guests can peek into the den for a glimpse of the calf. 

One hundred years ago, there were half a million Black and White Rhinos in the wild.  Today, that figure stands at less than 30,000.  This calf will play an important role in the future of the species.  

See more photos of the Rhino Calf below.

Continue reading "Rhino Calf is Zoo's First in 35 Years" »

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait


Zoo Zurich has eagerly waited 18 years to be able to announce the birth of a new East African Black Rhino. After years of failed breeding attempts, the zoo has been closely monitoring the recent pregnancy of one of their females. Finally, on December 28th, 14-year-old mother, ‘Samira’, and 15-year-old father, ‘Jeremy’, welcomed a healthy, feisty rhino girl, named ‘Olmoti’!



10866068_902158129835493_3119401308197719972_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Zurich/Peter Bolliger (Images 1,3,4); Zoo Zurich/Enzo Franchini (Images 2,5,6)

When fully grown, Olmoti could grow to 12 feet long and five feet high at the shoulder, and she could weigh up to 3,000 pounds.

Eastern Black Rhinos, in the wild, inhabit transitional zones between grasslands and forests, generally in thick thorn bush or acacia scrub. However, they may also be found in more open country.

As a herbivorous browser, the Black Rhino eats leafy plants as well as branches, shoots, thorny wood bushes and fruit. Rhino skin harbors many external parasites, which are eaten by tickbirds and egrets that live with the rhino. In the wild, young are preyed upon by hyenas. These solitary animals are more nocturnal than diurnal. Females are not territorial; their ranges vary according to food supply. Males are more aggressive in defending turf, but will tolerate properly submissive male intruders.

Mating is non-seasonal, but births peak toward the end of the rainy season in drier habitats. Gestation is 15-16 months, after which single young are born weighing about 85 pounds. These calves are active soon after birth and can follow mother after about three days. Eastern Black Rhinos mature at five years.

Continue reading "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait" »