Early yesterday morning, after a nearly 16 month pregnancy, “Kalu,” an 11 year old Indian one horned Rhinoceros, gave birth at Zoo Miami. This is the first ever successful birth of this highly endangered species for Zoo Miami and in fact, in the history of all South Florida zoos.
Kalu was born at the Bronx Zoo on December 22, 2000 and arrived at Zoo Miami as part of a breeding loan on June 10, 2004. The father’s name is “Suru” and he was born at the San Diego Wild Animal Park on December 31, 2000. He arrived at Zoo Miami on October 19, 2003 as part of a breeding loan with the San Francisco Zoo. This is the first offspring for both individuals.
There are less than 3,000 Indian Rhinos left in the wild occurring in small protected areas of Nepal, India, and Assam. Over the years, they have been poached extensively for their horn which is used for medicinal purposes and for dagger handles that are revered in some Asian cultures. They are the world’s fourth largest land mammal sometimes reaching a weight of 6,000 pounds.
More photos below the fold...
This very rare birth is not only significant for Zoo Miami, it is incredibly important to the international efforts to maintain a healthy captive population of this highly endangered species throughout the world. It is only the third captive birth of an Indian rhino in the U.S. this year.
Initial indications are that the newborn is a female but more specific information will not become available until the veterinary team is able to do a neonatal exam. This will be performed when the staff feels that it can safely separate the infant from its very protective mother for the few minutes that the exam will take and after it has been observed to successfully nurse. It is critical that the mother and newborn are able to establish a bond which can sometimes be a challenge for first time mothers. Because of the extreme sensitivity of the situation, there will be no media access until zoo management has determined that everything is stable and the new mother and baby have been able to adjust to their new lives. If everything goes well, it will probably be a few weeks until the newborn is on public display.