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.

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A Big Bottle For a Big Baby

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At three weeks old, a Greater One-horned Rhino calf at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has no problem with the super-sized bottle wielded by a zoo keeper.  This little Rhino gulps down a bottle every two hours and gains almost four pounds each day.

Born on November 27, the male calf, who has not yet been named, was cared for by his mother for almost two weeks, but he was not gaining weight as he should.  To provide the calf with the optimal care to thrive, he was taken to the Safari Park’s animal care center where he is watched around-the-clock, bottle-fed every two hours, and taken outdoors for exercise each day.

After only a week in the nursery, the little Rhino is growing:  he weighed 160 pounds at birth and currently weighs 190 pounds.  Adult Rhinos weigh between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds.

Once widespread in Southeast Asia, the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros is now found only in India and Nepal. This species is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to poaching threats. There are an estimated 3,250 Greater One-horned Rhinos remaining in the wild. This calf is the 68th Greater One-horned Rhino born at the Safari Park since 1975, making the Park the foremost breeding facility in the world for this species. 

Photo Credit:  Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park




Rumble of Little Rhino Feet at Zoo Berlin


On October 2nd, Zoo Berlin’s Black Rhino, ‘Maburi’, gave birth to a healthy baby boy!



ZooBerlin_BlackRhino_4Photo Credits: Zoo Berlin (1,2,3); Peter Griesbach (4,5)

The yet-to-be named bull calf is, according to keepers, doing exceedingly well.  Even without a horn, he can confidently stand on his short, sturdy legs and survey his surroundings. Soon after birth, the calf nursed for a short while and was soon standing on all fours. Protective mother, Maburi, is keeping watch over him in the safe confines of the rhino barn, at the zoo.

Zoo Berlin Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem, said, “The Zoo Berlin is world famous for its successful Black Rhino breeding. The small bull is already the 18th born in Berlin. We are very excited about the new breeding success of the highly endangered species.”

The Black Rhinoceros is native to eastern and central Africa. Although it is referred to as ‘black’, its colors vary from brown to grey. Overall, the species is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List.

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One-Horned Rhino Calf Born at the Wilds

Rhino calf at the Wilds 004, Jeff Hammer

The Wilds, in Ohio, welcomed a Greater One-Horned Asian Rhinoceros, also known as an Indian rhino, on August 30th. The calf was born out in pasture with the rest of the herd and is the sixth One-Horned Rhino born at the Wilds.

Rhino calf at the Wilds 001, Jeff Hammer

Rhino calf at the Wilds 003, Jeff Hammer

Rhino calf at the Wilds 006, Jeff HammerPhoto Credits: Jeff Hammer

Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management, said, “We had been watching the mother very closely over the past week. Her udder development and behavior told us the birth was imminent; however there are several good hiding places across 100 acres. The calf is doing well and already enjoys swimming in the lake with mom.”

The Greater One-Horned Rhino calf, whose sex has yet to be determined, marks the continued success of the One-Horned Rhino breeding program at the Wilds conservation center located in southeast Ohio.

The calf is the third for 15-year-old dam, Sanya, and the third for 11-year-old sire, Rustum.  Rustum came to the Wilds in 2007 as part of a group imported by the Zoological Society of San Diego to bring new genetics into the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) program.

Born after a gestation of nearly 16 months, One-Horned Rhinos can grow to be 4,800 pounds and six feet tall at the shoulder. Their range is the plains or woodlands of northern India, Bhutan and Nepal.

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Rhino Calf is a Surprise for Burgers' Zoo


As keepers at the Netherlands’ Burgers’ Zoo were moving the White Rhino herd into the stables at the end of the day on July 23, they got a big surprise – Kwanzaa, a female Rhino, had delivered a male calf!

10351811_792013610871533_6350523479992007433_nPhoto Credit:  Burgers' Zoo

Kwanzaa refused to go into the stables so soon after giving birth, so she and her newborn calf remained outdoors.  Keepers left the stable doors open so Kwanzaa and her calf could move inside when they felt ready.  Sometime in the night, they did go into the stable, where they have remained for the last few days.  After a week or so, keepers plan to allow Kwanzaa and her calf to move back into the outdoor yard.

The Rhino calf’s arrival was not a complete surprise.  Pregnancy hormone levels in the Rhinos’ manure are tested regularly, and Kwanzaa was expected to deliver in about one month.  White Rhinos are pregnant for about 17 months.  The calf, who has not been named, weighed about 50 pounds at birth, and gains about 3 pounds per day. 

White Rhinos are threatened by illegal hunting in their African home ranges.  Poachers kill Rhinos only for their horns, which are used in traditional medicines and as coveted ornaments.

See more photos of the calf below.

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Buffalo Zoo's Endangered Indian Rhino Calf Is a World First

Tashi and baby Monica

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) and the Buffalo Zoo are excited to announce the birth of a female Indian Rhino calf produced by artificial insemination (AI), and born on June 5. This is the first offspring for a male Rhino who never contributed to the genetics of the Indian Rhino population during his lifetime – a major victory for endangered species around the world and a lifetime of work in the making.

Rhino calf Monica,  Lead  Rhino Keeper Joe Hauser, CREW Reproductive Physiologist Dr. Monica Stoops
Rhino calf Monica and Cryo-Bio Bank
Rhino calf Monica
Photo Credit:  Kelly Brown of the Buffalo Zoo

The father, “Jimmy,” died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004 and was dead for a decade before becoming a father for the very first time.  During those ten years, Jimmy’s sperm was stored at -320°F in CREW’s CryoBioBank™ (the white tank shown in these photos) in Cincinnati, before it was taken to Buffalo, thawed and used in the AI. 

“We are excited to share the news of Tashi's calf with the world as it demonstrates how collaboration and teamwork among the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) organizations are making fundamental contributions to Rhino conservation,” said Dr. Monica Stoops, Reproductive Physiologist at the Cincinnati Zoo’s CREW. “It is deeply heartening to know that the Cincinnati Zoo's beloved male Indian Rhino Jimmy will live on through this calf and we are proud that CREW's CryoBioBank™ continues to contribute to this endangered species’ survival.”

Tashi, the Buffalo Zoo’s 17-year-old female has previously conceived and successfully given birth through natural breeding in both 2004 and 2008.  Unfortunately, her mate passed away and the Buffalo Zoo’s new male Indian Rhino has not yet reached sexual maturity. Because long intervals between pregnancies in female Rhinos can result in long-term infertility, keepers at the Buffalo Zoo knew it was critical to get Tashi pregnant again and reached out to Dr. Stoops for her expertise.   

In February of 2013, Dr. Stoops worked closely with Buffalo Zoo's Rhino keeper Joe Hauser and veterinarian Dr. Kurt Volle to perform a standing sedation AI procedure on Tashi. Scientifically speaking, by producing offspring from non or under-represented individuals, CREW is helping to ensure a genetically healthy captive population of Indian Rhinos exists in the future.  This is a science that could be necessary for thousands of species across the globe as habitat loss, poaching, and population fragmentation (among other reasons) threaten many with extinction.

Read more about the Rhino calf's amazing story below.

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Another Big Baby For Zoo Miami


On Sunday May 25th, a Black Rhinoceros was born just after 11:00 pm. This was the 13th successful birth at Zoo Miami for this highly endangered species. Weighing 122 pounds, the female calf was born after an approximately 15 month gestation period. The 14 year old mother, named Circe, was born at the Riverbanks Zoo and arrived at Zoo Miami in 2006. The father, named “Eddie,” is also 14 years old and was born at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Black Rhinos are highly endangered as they continue to be poached at alarming rates in Eastern and Southern Africa. Whereas there used to be over 100,000 running wild in Africa within the past century, those numbers are now down to an estimated 5,000 individuals. They are killed for their horns which are prized in some eastern cultures for medicinal purposes and as status symbols.






Tampa's Rhino Calf Gets Down and Dirty

Africa white rhino baby oct 17 2013
In the middle of the night on October 9, Kidogo the Southern White Rhinoceros gave birth to a healthy male calf at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the third birth of this species in the zoo’s history. Now just a few weeks old, the calf, which has been named “Khari” (K-har-E), an African name meaning “king like,” is already romping in the Rhino yard’s mud puddles.

Africa white rhino baby oct 15 2013
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Africa white rhino khari baby oct 22 2013
Photo Credit:  Dave Parkinson

While the zoo’s herd has grown by one, the wild population of Rhinos decreases by one every 15 hours due to poaching.

Demand for Rhino horn has skyrocketed in southeast Asia where horn, which is made out of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is wrongly believed to have medicinal properties.  In 2012 in South Africa, 668 Rhinos were killed by poachers, and it is estimated that as many as 1,000 Rhinos could be lost this year. By 2016, Rhino deaths from poaching could overtake wild births. 

The zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Southern White Rhino Species Survival Plan, designed to support conservation of this species.

The zoo is currently home to a herd of seven Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, the second-born juvenile Rhino “Kande,” and the newborn. Because White Rhinos live in herds, Kidogo and Khari have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and the Grevy’s Zebras that share the outdoor exhibit. 

The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, the most prominent in the front. Unlike Indian Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horn 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 100-140 pounds.

See more photos of Khari below the fold.

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With the Birth of an Indian Rhino, Zoo Basel Tries a New Approach

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At Zoo Basel in Switzerland, an Indian Rhinoceros gave birth during the night on October 5. The calf, a boy, was given the name Kiran, a Hindi word for 'sunrise'. Kiran is nursing well and bonding well with his mother, 31-year-old Ellora. On his first day, Kiran weighed 150 pounds (68 kg) and stood just over two feet (66 cm) tall. 

Kiran's 3-year-old sister, Henna, was also present for the birth. This was the first time in a European zoo that a Rhinoceros birth has taken place in the presence of an older sibling, as it occurs in nature. Usually, older siblings are moved to a different location when a Rhino is giving birth in captivity, to help ensure the safety of the newborn. Henna was a bit uneasy with the unfamiliar new arrangement, but it didn't take too long for her to adapt. The three now spend most of their time together in the Rhino barn, although Kiran has started to take his first steps outside.

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Photo credits: Zoo Basel

Also out-of-the-ordinary, Ellora also had the freedom to chose where she wanted to give within her habitat. The experienced mom made a good decision, chosing the private shelter of the barn. Kiran is Ellora's eighth calf, and the 34th baby Rhinoceros born at Basel Zoo since 1956 birth of Rudra, the first Rhino ever to be born in a zoo. Since 1990, Basel Zoo has coordinated the European Endangered Species Program for Rhinos, an international effort to coordinate the breeding of healthy Rhinos in zoos. 

The Indian Rhino, also called the Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, lives in the riverine grasslands and forests of India and Nepal.  According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, the Indian Rhino is a vulnerable species. Though strictly protected, Zoo Basel notes that poaching has increased in recent years. The zoo supports the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 project in Assam, India, a site dedicated to the conservation of the species. 

Lincoln Park Zoo Celebrates Birth of Endangered Eastern Black Rhino

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60 pounds, 30 inches (27 kg, 76 cm): Not your average measurements for a newborn.  But when you’re dealing with a baby Eastern Black Rhino, it’s fair to expect things to be a bit outsized. The 'little' rhino, a boy, was born August 26 at Lincoln Park Zoo in Illinois. He’s the first offspring for 8-year-old mom Kapuki and 27-year-old dad Maku and the first rhinoceros born at the zoo since 1989. Right now he’s growing behind the scenes, where animal care staff are keeping a close watch as the baby bonds with mom.

“Mother and baby are both doing wonderfully,” says Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “The calf divides his time between nursing, following mom around, and napping, and that is exactly what a baby rhino should be doing.”

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Photo credits: Lincoln Park Zoo

Watch a video of mother and calf:


The new arrival is a welcome addition for a species that’s facing a conservation crisis in the wild. Black Rhinos are critically endangered and were nearly driven to extinction in the 1990s. Their wild population is currently estimated at 5,055 individuals. Although these creatures are protected, they are still killed illegally for their horns, which are used in folk medicines. 

Rhinos are naturally solitary—and territorial—animals, coming together only for brief intervals to breed. Introductions need to be carefully timed to the female's estrus so that she will be receptive to the male’s approach. The pairing of Kapuki with Maku was recommended by the Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and management strategy overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

“This birth is cause for great celebration here at Lincoln Park Zoo and has been much anticipated,” says Kamhout. “The gestational period for rhinos is 15-16 months, and they have incredibly small windows for conception. Together with the zoo’s endocrinologists, we worked to pinpoint the exact window for Kapuki and Maku to get together for breeding. The whole zoo family is delighted at this successful outcome.”

So, how exactly do you pinpoint the right time? See and read more after the fold!

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