Zookeepers at Chester Zoo have revealed the name of a rare baby Rhino born on May 3.
Meet Akeno, the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros calf – only the second of his kind to ever be born at the zoo. The name Akeno is of Asian origin, meaning “beautiful sunrise.”
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
Although he is just six weeks old, Akeno has bundles of energy and is proving to be a real handful for his 11-year-old mother, Asha.
Greater One-horned Rhinos can weigh up to 2.4 tons as adults, but despite their bulky size, they can run at speeds of up to 25 mph.
Also known as Indian Rhinos, Greater One-horned Rhinos live in northeastern India and southern Nepal. Like all Rhinos, they feed on grasses and other vegetation. And, like Rhinos in Africa and other parts of Asia, Greater One-horned Rhinos are illegally hunted for their horns, which are mistakenly believed to have medicinal properties in some cultures. In reality, Rhino horns are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up human hair and fingernails.
Due to overhunting and habitat loss, only about 200 Greater One-horned Rhinos remained in the wild by the middle of the 20th century. Steps to protect the Rhinos were taken just in time and today, about 3,500 live in the wild. They are currently listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
A rare Greater One-horned Rhino calf was born May 3 at Chester Zoo.
After 16 months gestation and a 20-minute labor, the male calf arrived to mum, Asha (11-years old), and dad, Beni (13).
The Zoo captured the birth on CCTV and footage shows the soon-to-be-named calf getting to his feet to take his first wobbly steps before feeding for the first time.
Zoo conservationists have hailed the birth of the “precious, bolshie newcomer” as a big boost to the endangered species breeding programme, with the Greater One-horned Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) listed as “Vulnerable” to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The animals are threatened in the wild by the illegal poaching of their horns and habitat loss.
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “Asha is a superb mum and delivered her little bundle of joy in very relaxed fashion – almost lying down completely to give birth.”
“Greater One-horned Rhinos are a vulnerable species and every new calf is ever so special. This is a momentous new arrival.”
Rowlands continued, “Rhinos around the world are under increasing pressure due largely to the senseless poaching of their horn. We need more people to be aware of their plight and join us in the fight to end the slaughter and ensure these magnificent animals are around for the future. Asha’s precious new arrival, which is already developing into quite a bolshie little character, will hopefully go some way to keeping rhinos and the surrounding issues in the spotlight.”
Chester Zoo is part of a breeding programme coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) that is focused on sustaining the Greater One-horned Rhino population.
Mike Jordan, Collections Director, added, “At one stage, the Greater One-horned Rhino was hunted almost to extinction and there were less than 200 in the wild. Thankfully, steps to protect them were taken just in time, and today there are around 3,500 in India and Nepal.”
“That number though is still desperately small, and they continue to face threats to their long-term survival. As with the rhinos in Africa, they are targeted for their horns by poachers and much of the land where they once lived has been taken over by humans. It’s therefore vitally important that we act for wildlife to ensure the population doesn’t dip to critically low levels again.”
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo recently welcomed its sixth Eastern Black Rhino calf. After a fifteen-month pregnancy, 14-year-old Kibibbi gave birth on February 7.
"Kibibbi's pregnancy announcement last year coincided [with] bringing our Future for Wildlife program and conservation work to the forefront," said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Executive Director, Chris Kuhar. "Over the past year, the community has taken action to support conservation efforts that protect the future for wildlife like the critically-endangered Eastern Black Rhino."
Photo & Video Credits: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Keepers report that mom and baby are doing well and have been under constant care by the Zoo's animal care team. In order to stimulate the mother-calf bond, Kibibbi and the calf will not be visible to the public for a period of time. During this time, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo looks forward to sharing more about the calf's development. At the appropriate time, guests will have a chance to see them for the first time in the Zoo's African Savannah destination. For behind-the-scenes updates, fans can check Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's social media channels.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo also announced last month that, Igne, a 24-year-old Eastern Black Rhino, is pregnant and due this coming fall.
The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) is also known as the East African Black Rhinoceros, and it is a subspecies of the Black Rhinoceros. Its numbers are very low due to poaching for its horn, and it is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List. The new calf's birth is an important one for the species; of the 48 Eastern Black Rhinos located in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoos in North America, four were born in 2017 and this is the first of 2018.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of a rare Southern Black Rhinoceros calf, born on October 31 to mother Bakhita and father Kwanzaa.
The yet-to-be-named male calf is the second Black Rhino calf to be born at the Zoo this year, boosting the Zoo’s successful Black Rhino breeding program.
“We are very happy with the arrival of a healthy male calf born overnight on 31 October. Every birth is special, but to have two Black Rhino calves born in one year is particularly exciting. We’re thrilled,” Keeper Scott Smith said. “The birth occurred in the early hours of Halloween, following a 15-month gestation period for Bakhita. It was a smooth delivery, and the calf is strong, healthy and well. Bakhita is an experienced and nurturing mother, and while she’s protective of her baby, she is relatively relaxed and trusting around Keepers.”
Photo Credits: Rick Stevens/ Taronga Western Plains Zoo
“At just two weeks of age, the calf was showing his confidence and interacting with Keepers via a ‘creep’ yard - a fence opening large enough for the baby to pass through, but too small for Bakhita,” Scott said. This ‘creep’ yard allows the calf to get close to Keepers and grow used to their presence, while Bakhita comfortably eats hay nearby. By encouraging this interaction from a young age, Keepers can develop an important bond with him, which helps to make working with the calf a positive experience as he grows into an adult Rhino.
“The new calf is one of the biggest Black Rhino calves born here at the Zoo, with an estimated birth weight of 35 to 40 kilograms. We’re pleased to see he is suckling very well from Bakhita,” Scott said. “He has already been seen galloping around his behind-the-scenes enclosure and venturing a considerable distance from Bakhita for short periods of time. He’s an active calf and is very inquisitive about his surroundings.”
The calf is imitating eating behaviors by mouthing browse (leaves), but will only start to eat solid food at around three months of age. While Black Rhino are born without horns, the calf’s horn will soon begin growing at a rate of around half a centimeter to one centimeter per month.
The calf’s mother, Bakhita, is the first Black Rhino female to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, with her arrival in 2002 being a widely celebrated occasion. The Zoo currently has three generations of Black Rhino. Bakhita’s daughter, Kufara, currently has a calf of her own - Mesi, born in April this year.
The best time to see Kufara and Mesi is at the Black Rhino Keeper Talk at 9.25am daily. Bakhita and her baby will remain behind the scenes as they continue to bond as mother and calf, and they will be on exhibit for the public to see early next year.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the only zoo in Australia to have successfully bred three species of Rhino: the Black Rhino and White Rhino from Africa, and the Greater One-horned Rhino from Asia. The new calf is the 14th Black Rhino calf to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Every Rhino birth is extremely important. Southern Black Rhinoceros are critically endangered with only an estimated 4000 left in the wild, predominantly due to poaching for their horns. Taronga is a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, and in addition to the breeding conservation program, actively supports conservation efforts for wild Rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India in areas including habitat protection, anti-poaching and reduction of human-rhino conflict.
Cotswold Wildlife Park is celebrating the birth of a White Rhino calf. The newborn male, named Alan, is the newest additions to the UK park’s “crash” (collective noun for a group of Rhinos) at their Burford collection.
It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family at Cotswold. After almost forty years of hoping the Rhinos would breed, history was finally made in 2013 with the birth of Astrid, the Park’s first Rhino breeding success.
Since the arrival of Astrid, thanks to the dedication of the mammal keepers, the breeding programme has gone from strength to strength. The newest arrival, Alan, is the fourth White Rhino to be born at the Park.
Photo Credits: Jackie Thomas /Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens
Alan is the second calf for parents, Ruby and Monty. At just one-week old, he weighed around eleven stone (154 lbs.), and he is proving to be a high-spirited and boisterous youngster. Ruby also continues to impress keepers with her skills as an exceptional and protective mother.
(Alan is named in honor of Cotswold Wildlife Park’s electrician who retires this year after twenty-three years of dedicated service.)
Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Reggie Heyworth, said, “Everyone is over-joyed about the birth of another Rhino calf to Ruby, who is being such a good mother, for the second time. The calf looks like a strong lad already, and the rest of the Rhino ‘crash’ seem to be taking his arrival in their stride. With Rhinos facing such poaching pressures in the wild, every birth in captivity is a sign of hope for this wonderful species”.
Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only thirteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months.
Females only reproduce every two-and-a-half to five years, so the window of opportunity for successful reproduction is limited. After a gestation period of sixteen to eighteen months, a single calf is born. This is one of the longest gestation periods of any land mammal, surpassed only by the twenty-two month gestation period of an Elephant. A newborn Rhino calf will stand up within one hour of birth and immediately attempt to suckle, although he or she may be a little unsteady on their feet for the first few days. It will remain under the watchful eye of the mother, suckling from her for approximately one year. Their bond is an intensely strong one, and the calf will remain with its mother for at least two years, benefiting from her protection. Females guard their offspring aggressively and are intimidating adversaries if challenged.
The White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum ssp. simum) is living proof of conservation success. They were once the rarest subspecies of any Rhino and were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s, when it was believed only some fifty animals remained in their native South Africa. Thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five Rhino species, although poaching in the last five years has once again escalated to serious levels. Three of the five Rhino species – the Black, Javan and Sumatran – are critically endangered.
Poaching for their horns remains the biggest threat to these iconic animals. Recently HRH Prince William warned: “Rhinos face extinction in our lifetime as we struggle to correct lies about the supposed benefits of using its horn as a drug”. There is no evidence that horns, made of the same substance as human fingernails and hair, have any medicinal value. However, the false belief that Rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases has resulted in a population slaughter of one thousand and fifty four Rhinos in South Africa alone in 2016.
White Rhinos have always been an important species at the Wildlife Park. They were one of the first large mammals to join the collection, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970.
Cotswold Wildlife Park is committed to the conservation of these iconic mammals. Each year the Park hosts Rhino Month to raise awareness and funds for Rhino conservation work in Africa. This year £1,000 was raised and donated to Save the Rhino International for their conservation work with the critically endangered Black Rhinos in Namibia.
Visitors to the Park can see the new calf daily in the large Rhino paddock and solar powered Rhino House.
The Wilds welcomed a female Southern White Rhinoceros calf born in the pasture during the afternoon of October 5. The calf is the second fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa (both fifth-generation calves were born at The Wilds).
The new calf was born to second-time mother, Anan, and first-time father, Roscoe. Anan’s first calf, a male named Letterman (born at The Wilds in 2014), was the first fifth-generation White Rhino to be born outside of Africa.
Anan had a notable birth herself, as she was the first fourth-generation Rhino to be born outside of Africa, and she, too, was born at The Wilds. Anan’s mother, Zen, was the very first Rhino born at The Wilds in 2004 and is still a part of the conservation center’s breeding herd.
The Wilds animal management team members have observed that the new calf is strong and is nursing in the pasture. This is the 17th White Rhino born at The Wilds; the conservation center has also produced seven Asian One-horned Rhinos.
Photo Credits: Grahm S. Jones / Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
The breeding recommendations are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to enhance conservation of these species in their native range and to maintain a sustainable population of rhinos in human care.
“Every birth at The Wilds is significant, but this one is particularly special to us. With each new generation of Rhinos born, it is a testament to the success of the breeding program at The Wilds but more importantly a success for this species as a whole. The Wilds is proud to be a part of the conservation initiatives ensuring the survival of this species,” said Dr. Jan Ramer, vice president of The Wilds.
The White Rhino population had dwindled to perhaps only 50-200 at the beginning of the 20th century, but through conservation efforts, the population of White Rhinos in their native African range has rebounded to about 20,400 animals. However, even with the increase in numbers, the species remains classified as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All five remaining Rhino species in Africa and Asia (White Rhinoceros, Black Rhinoceros, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, and Sumatran Rhinoceros) are persecuted by poachers who sell the horns for ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes, even though there are no scientifically proven health benefits for its use. The horns are made of keratin—the same substance that makes up fingernails and hair. The International Rhino Foundation, which receives support from The Wilds, estimates that one Rhino is killed every eight hours for its horn.
A two-month-old Eastern Black Rhino calf was filmed trying to get the attention of his mum in the most adorable way at Chester Zoo recently.
The footage of baby Ike playfully jumping on mum, Zuri, was released just ahead of “World Rhino Day” on September 22.
Ike is one of two critically endangered Eastern Black Rhino calves that was born just weeks apart at Chester Zoo earlier in the year. (See our article from earlier in the summer: "Two Rhinos Born Days Apart at Chester Zoo")
In the wild, a huge surge in illegal poaching, driven by a global increase in demand for Rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market, has resulted in around 95% of all Rhinos being wiped out in the last century.
The issue is being driven by the street value of Rhino horn, which is currently changing hands for more per gram than gold, diamonds and cocaine. However, modern science has proven that Rhino horns are made primarily of keratin, the protein found in hair, fingernails and animal hooves.
Stuart Nixon, Chester Zoo’s Africa Field Programmes Coordinator, said, “You’re likely to get exactly the same health benefits by chewing your own fingernails as you are taking powdered Rhino horn. Yet in South African alone, more than 500 rhinos have been killed so far this year.”
“The IUCN estimates that, on average, almost two Rhinos have been killed every day in Africa for nine straight years and they could be extinct in as little 10 years. Rhinos need protecting, not poaching.”
Chester Zoo is currently home to 10 critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and two Greater One-horned Rhinos.
Through its Act For Wildlife conservation movement, the zoo has also recently provided support for Rhino protection to its partners the Big Life Foundation in Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya and the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust in Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania.
As thousands of viewers watched via live webcam on August 10, Izala the Southern White Rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy female calf at Burgers’ Zoo.
Zoo staff members were anxious about the birth because Izala’s first calf was stillborn in January 2016. It is not uncommon for a White Rhino’s first pregnancy to be unsuccessful. Fortunately, this calf appears healthy and strong, and she was walking and nursing within just hours of birth.
The lively calf, named Wiesje, runs and plays in her large exhibit, with Izala usually trotting close behind.
Photo Credit: Burgers' Zoo
Seven Rhinos have been born at Burgers’ Zoo in the past 17 years, and around 12 are born each year in European zoos. Last year, 22 Rhino births occurred in European zoos, due in part to increased cooperation among zoos. This cooperation resulted in more Rhinos being transferred among zoos into more favorable breeding situations.
While other Rhino species live mostly solitary lives, White Rhinos live in small social groups which typically include adult females and their young. Males’ territories overlap those of females. Researchers have learned that the hormonal cycles of lower-ranking females in these groups are suppressed, resulting in only higher-ranking females being bred.
In zoos, this research has a practical application: moving a young female to a new environment increase the odds that her hormonal cycle will be restored, which improves the odds that she will breed. Thus Izala, who lived at the Kolmarden Zoo with her mother, was brought to Burgers’ Zoo so she could successfully breed and rear her own baby.
Southern White Rhinos are the largest of all five Rhino species, and are also the most numerous in the wild, with about 20,000 individuals found mainly in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
Southern White Rhinos are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threat remains poaching for the illegal Rhino horn trade. As prices for Rhino horn increase, hunting increases as well. Rhino horn, which is used for ornamental purposes and in Traditional Asian Medicine, is made of solid keratin, the same material in human fingernails. It has no proven medical benefits, yet has driven some Rhino species to the brink of extinction: only about 60 Javan Rhinos and 200 Sumatran Rhinos remain in Asia.
Eastern Black Rhino calf, Kendi, was born three weeks ago at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. The new calf and his mom, Seyia, are now making brief appearances in their outdoor habitat at the Zoo.
“Kendi is a brave little guy and would probably run all over the yard if his mom would let him,” said Cincinnati Zoo’s senior Veldt keeper Marjorie Barthel. “She’s a first-time mom and is being protective. They have access to go outside and do walk out occasionally, but it will take time for mom to feel comfortable enough to let Kendi explore the entire outdoor space.”
According to Barthel, mom and baby take naps and nurse inside. “Kendi is starting to mouth solid foods, so we’re cutting everything we give to Seyia into pieces small enough for the calf to handle. He also likes to play in the water trough. We can’t wait to see him discover mud.”
Kendi is only the fifth Eastern Black Rhino born in the last two years in North America, and the first to be born at the Cincinnati Zoo since 1999. There are fewer than 60 of his species in the entire North American Zoo population.
Two rare Eastern Black Rhino calves were born within days of each other at the Chester Zoo, boosting global numbers of the Critically Endangered species.
The new mothers, Kitani and Zuri, delivered their babies on June 19 and June 26 after 15-month-long pregnancies. The babies were delivered safely onto soft sand.
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
Video footage shows Kitani spinning around as she delivers her calf. The youngster was on its feet within a few minutes of birth, and took its first wobbly steps as amazed zoo visitors watched.
Both calves are doing well, and Kitani and Zuri are excellent mothers, according to their care team at Chester Zoo.
Less than 650 Eastern Black Rhinos now remain across Africa, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the animals as Critically Endangered in the wild.
The two births are a boost for the endangered species breeding program for Eastern Black Rhinos, which are teetering on the brink of extinction in the wild. Zoo births are managed to retain the highest level of genetic diversity as a hedge against possible extinction in the wild.
In addition, knowledge obtained from the zoo’s Rhino breeding program is being used right now in Africa to boost conservation efforts in the field.
A huge surge in illegal poaching, driven by a global increase in demand for Rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market, resulted in around 95% of Rhinos being wiped out since the turn of the 20th century. 2014 was branded ‘the worst poaching year on record’ by leading conservationists after more than 1,200 Rhinos were hunted in South Africa alone - a 9,000% increase from 2007.
The issue is being driven by the street value of Rhino horn, which sells for more per gram than gold or cocaine, although modern science has proven it completely useless for medicinal purposes. Rhino horn is made from keratin – the same material as human hair and nails.