The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is celebrating some big news! For the first time in over 45 years there, a baby Black Rhinoceros was born to mom Azizi. The female calf weighs about 70 pounds and appears to be doing very well.“We are so excited to welcome a big, beautiful, bouncing, female rhino,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. “The birth of a Black Rhino is significant because they are critically endangered and Azizi’s calf will introduce new blood lines into the zoo population.”
There are 4,800 Black Rhinoceroses left in the wild. Between 1970 and 1992, the Black Rhino population decreased by 96% — the most dramatic of all Rhino species. Black Rhino populations are recovering slowly despite intensive efforts to end poaching, the biggest threat to animals worldwide. Mom and baby will not be on exhibit for the public until after they have had the appropriate amount of time to bond, and until the weather and temperature conditions are ideal for this African native. Visitors are asked to check the Zoo’s website and social media sites for details of when baby will be viewable.
Keepers noticed Azizi was acting differently last week. She started pacing and appeared uncomfortable. “At one point she put her feet on her water trough and was stretching,” says Dr. Baker.
“Labor lasted roughly 50 minutes with no complications,” says Dr. Ginger Takle, director of animal health. “We wanted to be close in case Azizi should need us, but she did very well for a first time mom. Keepers and zoo veterinary staff monitored the birth nearby, but out of sight to allow for a natural delivery. The baby was nursing within two hours of her birth. Nursing is an important first step in bonding with mom. Calves gain about 30 pounds each week from the nutrients in the mother’s milk.
Dr. Takle added, “It is important for the calf to continue to nurse and gain weight especially during the first three months which are critical. As she continues to grow, we will begin to introduce solid food at about one month of age, starting with alfalfa and sweet potatoes.”