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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.