When Quetta the Indian Rhinoceros, who is normally calm and relaxed, began nervously pacing at the Basel Zoo on Saturday, January 7, keepers suspected that she might be in labor. Quetta remained in her stall all night, alternately standing and lying down. Around 11:45 PM, she delivered a healthy male calf after a 492-day pregnancy.
Born while his mother was standing up, the calf, named Orys, landed on his back but soon rolled onto his stomach. Within an hour he was standing on wobbly legs. Though he is tiny compared to his mother, Orys weighed an impressive 150 pounds a few days after birth.
Photo Credit: Basel Zoo
Basel Zoo has a long history of breeding Rhinos. Orys is Quetta’s fourth calf and the 35th Indian Rhinoceros to be reared at Basel Zoo. The first Indian Rhino birth in a European Zoo occurred at Basel Zoo in 1956.
Every Rhino birth is significant. Once ranging across Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, Indian Rhinos are now found only in a few protected areas in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. Indian Rhinos are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with about 3,500 individuals remaining in the wild. Indian Rhinos are one of five Rhino species in the world, and all are under threat.
Basel Zoo coordinates the International Studbook and the European Endangered Species Programme for Indian Rhinos and is active in the ‘Indian Rhino Vision 2020’ project to conserve wild Rhinos in India. Globally, about 220 Indian Rhinos live in zoos.
A Greater One-horned Rhino – a species that nearly went extinct in the 20th century – was born at the Wildsconservation center on November 11. This is the seventh Greater One-horned Rhino to be born at the Wilds.
The calf and his mom, Sanya, are doing well and have been bonding in the barn on the Wilds property. The animal care team has been monitoring the pair closely, but has not needed to provide any immediate assistance to the experienced mother. Calves usually weigh more than 100 pounds at birth and gain a few pounds every day. An adult Greater One-horned Rhino can weigh 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.
Photo Credit: Grahm S. Jones/Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
“Rhino conservation has come a long way in the past 100 years, but there is still work to be done,” said Daniel Beetem, director of animal management at the Wilds. “Rhinos continue to be poached for the misconception that their horns have medicinal value, when the horns are the chemical equivalent of human fingernails. Rhinos also face the imminent danger of declining habitat quality. We are proud to help keep this incredible species alive through our breeding program at the Wilds.”
Sanya, born in Toronto in 1999, has now given birth to four calves since arriving at the Wilds in 2004. The father, Rustum, was born at a zoo in India and imported to the United States in 2007 to bring genetic diversity to the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This newborn is Rustum’s fifth offspring.
The Wilds, home to four Greater One-horned Rhinos, is one of only 26 facilities in North America to care for this species. The Wilds is also home to 13 southern white Rhinos. In total, more than 500 animals representing 29 species from around the world make up the animal population at the open-range, natural landscape at the Wilds.
Once listed as an endangered species, the Greater One-horned Rhino have seen a steady population increase thanks to strict government protection. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were only 600 individuals surviving in their native ranges of India and Nepal by 1975. Since then, researchers estimate the population has grown to exceed 3,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos living in these areas.
Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo recently announced that Ayana, a six-year-old Eastern Black Rhino, has given birth to an 80-pound female calf.
“This is an extremely significant event, not only in Blank Park Zoo’s 50 year history, but also for this critically endangered animal species,” said Mark Vukovich, Blank Park Zoo CEO.
The birth occurred October 11, and within the first hour, the calf was standing and walking. By two hours old, the calf was attempting to feed: all positive signs of a healthy baby Rhino calf.
The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) is also known as the East African Black Rhinoceros. A subspecies of the Black Rhino, its numbers are low due to poaching for its horn. Fewer than 1,000 remain (a combined estimate of wild and captive populations). Only two have been born in the United States, this year, and a total of seven in zoos worldwide. The species is currently listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
"The Eastern Black Rhino is at a 'tipping point' in the wild, meaning that deaths, mostly due to poaching, will soon outnumber births," said Kevin Drees, director of animal care and conservation. “The captive zoo population plays a role in survival of the species, and Blank Park Zoo has partnered with the International Rhino Foundation to secure the species future. This celebrated birth should raise awareness and bring attention to this critical wildlife situation.”
Photo Credits: Blank Park Zoo
Blank Park Zoo intends to organize a fund-raising campaign that will offer a chance to name the new baby Rhino.
Zoo officials stated that the baby would not be on public exhibit. Their intention is to allow an appropriate amount of bonding time for mom and baby. The Zoo will, however, be releasing updates via pictures, video and live webcams on its Facebook page located at: www.facebook.com/blankparkzoo and on the Zoo’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/blankparkzoo .
Keepers and staff at Howletts Wild Animal Park, in the UK, have been celebrating the birth of a delightful female Black Rhino.
The tiny calf, born on October 16, has been bonding with her mother in their heated stable, whilst the dedicated keeper team monitors her progress.
Animal Director, Neil Spooner said, “We are absolutely thrilled. She’s delightful, and both calf and mum, Salome, are doing well. This latest arrival signifies real hope for the future of this critically endangered species.”
The young calf, born to first time mother, Salome, has yet to be named. Keepers are so pleased with her progress that they have released CCTV footage of her birth and first steps. The team is confident that mum and baby will be ready to explore the outside exhibit very soon.
Jonathan Usher Smith, Head of Hoofstock Section added, “The footage of the calf taking her first steps is wonderful! As you can see, she is a little wobbly but that is to be expected just hours after birth. After only a week, she is already getting stronger and more confident – we’ve even seen her copying her mother and trying to eat browse – although she won’t be ready for solid food for quite some time yet.”
Photo Credits: Howletts Wild Animal Park/ Aspinall Foundation
The Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is currently classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Numbers in the wild have been decimated at the hands of poachers, who sell Rhino horn to the Asian market (where it is believed to have medicinal properties).
The Aspinall Foundation*, a leading conservation charity, working with Howletts and sister park Port Lympne, has been working to protect the Black Rhino since 1971. The foundation has returned Black Rhinos, born at Port Lympne Reserve, to protected areas in Africa, in the hope of saving the species. This summer, two of the returned Rhinos successfully gave birth in Africa---a testament to the success of the charity’s ‘Back To The Wild’ initiative.
Howletts latest arrival, firmly cements the conservation charity’s reputation as being the most successful breeder of Black Rhinos in the UK, with a total of 37 births to date.
*The Aspinall Foundation manages conservation projects in Congo, Gabon, Indonesia and Madagascar, as well as providing financial support to various partner projects around the world. The conservation charity’s important work helps prevent some of the most endangered species on the planet from becoming extinct.
A rare Eastern Black Rhino was born September 12 at the Great Plains Zoo. The male calf is the third Rhino born at the Zoo and was the first Eastern Black Rhino, born as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s (AZA) endangered species breeding program, since 2014. The calf weighed 103 pounds at birth and will be viewable to the public in several weeks.
With the calf and his parents, Jubba and Imara, the Great Plains Zoo now holds three of only 57 Eastern Black Rhinos in North America. It is estimated that fewer than 740 Eastern Black Rhinos are left in the wild, and they are considered to be a critically endangered species. While they do not have natural predators, their numbers are drastically low due in large part to illegal poaching for their valuable horns.
Photo Credits: Great Plains Zoo
The Zoo is a critical player in the AZA’s endangered species breeding program; the Zoo’s Senior Director of Animal Care, Lisa Smith, is the coordinator for the national Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Zoo’s “Rare Rhinos of Africa” exhibit includes a state-of-the-art breeding facility that was built in 2010. The space was designed to facilitate birthing and care of these large animals, with adaptable birthing suites, in-floor heat, and padded flooring. The Zoo’s veterinarian, vet tech and animal caregivers were able to monitor the mother’s progress toward delivery, both in person and remotely from home, using video cameras and the Internet.
“The baby Rhino’s birth is important for our Zoo, and even more important for the population of Black Rhinos in the Species Survival Plan,” said Elizabeth A. Whealy, President and CEO. “The Zoo is increasing our conservation efforts with zoos around the world to raise awareness of the plight of Rhinos, and to work with partners in the field to protect this amazing animal.”
Jubba and Imara are an important breeding pair. In addition to the new calf, their offspring include Kapuki, a female born in 2005, and Kiano, a male born in 2010. While both Kapuki and Kiano were born at the Great Plains Zoo, both have moved on to become critical breeders within the SSP. Kapuki had her first calf in 2013, and now resides at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, while Kiano’s home is the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli), also known as the East African Black Rhinoceros, is a subspecies of the Black Rhino. Its numbers are very low due to poaching for its horn, and it is listed by the IUCN as “Critically Endangered”.
The Eastern Black Rhino is distinguishable from the southern subspecies by its longer, leaner, and more curved horn. Its skin is also very grooved. Diceros bicornis michaeli is also reportedly more aggressive than the other three subspecies of Black Rhino. They are browsers and are usually found in highland forest and savanna habitats.
All three of the Zoo’s Rhinos are a part of the Zoo’s “Rare Rhinos of Africa” exhibit. The Rhinos can be viewed daily, free with Zoo admission. Visit the Great Plains Zoo online at www.greatzoo.org or call 605-367-7003 for more information.
On August 24th, Tanda, a 23-year old White Rhino, gave birth to a healthy male calf. The Safari also recently announced the name chosen for the new boy. He has been named Tupak (meaning “warrior”).
Photo Credits: Shai Ben Naftali (Images 1-8); Eren Habani (Image 9)
A few days before giving birth, keepers noted that Tanda's udders had filled out, and she began to distance herself from her two-year old daughter, Tashi. Zookeepers realized that the birth was close and took her to an open area of the Rhino’s yard, nicknamed the "nursery". This yard is shaded and pleasant, surrounded by thick shrubbery. This semi-private area enables all the Rhinos and other animals to see Tanda and smell her, but it also allows her some distance and privacy.
The birth passed uneventfully and a healthy Rhino calf entered the world, with all vital signs looking good. Tanda has been in the nursery with her baby, carefully tending to him and feeding him. Keepers put the other animals' food close to the nursery yard, so that they'll gradually get used to the new addition to the group.
This is Tanda’s fourth offspring since arriving at the Safari 13 years ago, and she is always a devoted mother. The new baby has been getting used to frequent interaction with Zookeepers, as Tanda receives routine eye treatments (necessary due to the chronic eye infection from which she suffers).
In another week or two, Tupak and mom, Tanda, will leave the nursery and join the rest of their herd in the open area of their exhibit.
During the last few years, the Safari Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan has become one of the leading facilities for breeding Rhinos, thanks to the weather and excellent conditions similar to those of their native habitat in Africa. The success is also due to smart decisions, taken in the last few years, regarding the management of the Safari's Rhino population.
Keepers snapped these photos of a baby Southern White Rhinoceros just hours after it was born at New Zealand’s Hamilton Zoo in June.
The male calf is described as “determined” by his keepers, and an eager feeder from his mother, Kito. This is Kito’s third calf as part of the Hamilton Zoo’s Rhino breeding program. He weighed about 140 pounds at birth.
Photo Credit: Thomas Burns
Named for the Afrikaans word “weit,” which means wide, referring to the animal’s wide mouth, the Southern White Rhino was thought to be extinct in the late 19th century, but in 1895 a small population of less than 100 individuals was discovered in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.
Today, after 121 years of successful protection and management, White Rhinos are classified as Near Threatened in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Although still hunted and poached for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal qualities in some cultures, about 20,000 White Rhinos exist in protected areas and private game reserves. Zoos play their part by showcasing animals as ambassadors for wild populations and conservation projects, as well as providing genetically sound reserve populations.
A Southern White Rhinoceros calf’s birth was highly anticipated by fans at Burgers’ Zoo. The Rhino den was live-streamed for almost a month as keepers awaited the baby’s arrival.
Because Rhinos have such thick skin, even ultrasounds cannot accurately aid in predicting the birthdate. The male calf, named Thomas, was finally born to female Kwanzaa at about 4:00 AM on May 30.
Photo Credit: Burgers' Zoo
Thomas began walking and nursing within just a few hours of his birth, which is normal for Rhinos. The staff at Burgers’ Zoo pronounced Thomas healthy and strong based on his appetite and activity level.
Southern White Rhinos are the largest of all Rhino species, with adult males weighing two-and-a-half tons. In the wild, they inhabit open savannahs, mainly in South Africa. Though they are the most abundant of all Rhinos, they are considered Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Like all Rhino species and subspecies, Southern White Rhinos are illegally killed for their horns. The horns are ground to a fine powder for use in Traditional Asian Medicine, despite the lack of evidence that the horns provide any health benefits.
Chester Zoo’s Eastern Black Rhino calf, Gabe, was recently photographed enjoying his first ever mud bath.
The youngster was seen slipping and sliding in the mud as he charged around with 13-year-old mum, Ema Elsa.
Kim Wood, assistant team manager of Rhinos at Chester Zoo, said, “Rhinos love nothing more than to roll around and play in fresh mud and it was great to see Gabe charge right in and enjoy getting messy. With the start of spring bringing in some warmer weather, wallowing in mud is great way for our Rhinos to cool off and it also helps to keep the Rhinos’ skin nice and healthy. We really do give them the five star spa treatment!”
Kim continued, “We’re really pleased with how Gabe is developing. He’s gaining in confidence with every passing day and helping us to raise more awareness of the terrible plight that his species is facing up to in the wild where, sadly, the Eastern Black Rhino is being illegally hunted to very edge of extinction.”
Photo Credits: Chester Zoo
Black Rhino populations have dropped by more than 95% over the last 50 years due to a global surge in illegal poaching for their horns, which continues to devastate the species.
According to the Zoo, the "little" guy is now over 200 pounds. They also report that he has become quite brave, often venturing further from mom Asha and interacting more with Keepers. Although still nursing, staff say he is starting to mouth some food, including: bamboo, apple, browse and the carrots that Keepers provide Asha.
He also loves his afternoon showers, and is often observed playfully rolling around in the water and encouraging mom to come play with him.
Photo and Video Credits: Toronto Zoo
The baby Rhino also has the rudiments of the distinctive horn. Although, it will be some time before it will be noticeable. A Rhino’s horn is made of keratin, like human fingernails. The full horn will not be in place until approximately six-years of age.
The calf has not been named, but the Toronto Zoo will make that announcement soon, via their social media pages. Asha and her son are now on exhibit at the Zoo.