Rhino

Toronto Zoo Announces Birth of Vulnerable Rhino

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The Toronto Zoo would like to announce that Ashakiran, an 11-year-old female Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), gave birth to a male calf on Wednesday, February 17, 2016.

The recent birth is very important for Indian Rhinoceros conservation, as the species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, and there are only approximately 2,000 left in the wild.

12764501_965400020163110_3855249591679932756_oPhoto Credits: Toronto Zoo

 

Reaching near extinction in the early 1900’s, the Indian Rhino (also known as the Greater One-Horned Rhino or Great Indian Rhinoceros) was once listed as Endangered. However, with conservation efforts and strict protection, its status changed in the 90s. This is considered a conservation success story, but they are not out of the woods. Habitat degradation, human-rhino conflict, and poaching continue to be threats.

The Indian Rhinoceros exists in a few small subpopulations in Nepal and India (West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam), inhabiting the riverine grasslands of the Terai and Brahmaputra Basins. With 70 % of the wild population occurring in one area in Kaziranga National Park, any catastrophic event could have a huge impact on conservation efforts for this species.

An Indian Rhinoceros' gestation lasts 425 - 496 days (approximately 16 months), and a single young is born between the end of February and the end of April. Subsequently, Ashakiran, affectionately known to her keepers as "Asha", was moved from public viewing into a maternity area within the Indian Rhino habitat mid-January, where video cameras were set in place for Wildlife Care to monitor her closely. While the calf appears healthy, and feeding well, the first thirty days will be critical for both mom and calf. Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care staff will continue to closely monitor Asha and her calf in the maternity area, which is not visible to the public at this time.

This is the first surviving calf for Asha and father, Vishnu (12-years-old). Asha gave birth to a stillborn calf back in 2011, and since then, was able to get pregnant but could not maintain pregnancy. The Toronto Zoo partnered with the Cincinnati Zoo and proceeded to follow their developed protocol of giving oral progesterone to Asha to help her maintain pregnancy. This collaborative research resulted in the birth of this healthy calf and will strengthen conservation breeding efforts in the future. This is the fourth birth of an Indian Rhinoceros in Toronto Zoo's history. The last Indian Rhinoceros to be born at the Toronto Zoo was a female named Sanya (born August 14, 1999), who now resides at The Wilds in Ohio, USA.

"Asha is on a breeding loan from Los Angeles Zoo and it is these partnerships that will bring us one step closer to overall conservation efforts to save this incredible species," says Maria Franke, Curator of Mammals, Toronto Zoo. "I would also like to thank the amazing team at the Toronto Zoo for all of the hard work and dedication that has resulted in this significant birth."

The Toronto Zoo is part of the Indian Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), which aims to establish and maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations, and overall conservation efforts to save this incredible species. One of the Toronto Zoo's mandates is to educate visitors on current conservation issues and help preserve the incredible biodiversity on the planet. The Toronto Zoo is in a great position to bring forward the plight of the Indian Rhinoceros and supports rhinoceros conservation efforts in the wild, through the Toronto Zoo Endangered Species Reserve Fund.

*Please note, Asha and her calf are not currently visible to the public.


A Little Prince Debuts in Australia

RajahThe first Greater One-horned Rhino to be born in Australia made his public debut last week at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Amala and Rajah Rick Stevens  (27)
Rajah on his own Rick Stevens  (33)Photo Credit:  Rick Stevens
 
You first read about the calf on ZooBorns here after his October 25, 2015 birth was announced.  The calf was named Rajah, which means ‘prince,’ reflecting his significance to the species’ breeding program.

“Rajah’s birth is the result of over 15 years of hard work and dedication from keepers and zoo staff,” said New South Wales Deputy Premier, Troy Grant.

The stage was set for Rajah’s birth when the zoo constructed a new Rhino facility in 2002.  Shortly after that, the zoo obtained a bull Rhino named Dora from Japan and Amala, a female Rhino, from the United States.  As Amala matured, keepers fine-tuned their husbandry techniques to better understand the species’ breeding habits, including travelling to India to participate in Rhino conservation projects. 

Zoo Director Matthew Fuller said, “In 2012 introductions began with keepers spending months getting the pair ready to meet each other. Finally, in 2014 the pair was introduced and a mating took place and in October, our little prince was born.”

Rajah and his mother have spent the past four months bonding behind the scenes while keepers helped Rajah learn new routines for his debut.  They have learned that Rajah is a little fussy, especially about bananas, his favorite treat:  if the skin is too tough or too brown, he won’t eat it!

Also known as Indian Rhinos, Greater One-horned Rhinos are found only on the Indian sub-continent.

Zoo breeding programs may hold the key to survival for creatures like the Greater One-horned Rhino.  In the early 1900s, Rhinos were nearly wiped out due to excessive sport hunting, but the establishment of reserves and anti-poaching laws helped to stabilize the species.  Some animals were translocated from existing reserves to establish new populations in protected areas of India.   Poaching for Rhino horns continues to be a threat.  Only about 2,700 Greater One-horned Rhinos remain in the wild.


Endangered Rhino Birth Caught on Camera at Chester Zoo

1_!One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (1)

Chester Zoo’s Eastern Black Rhino calf recently stomped out into the sunshine on his public debut. The male calf, whose birth was captured on CCTV cameras, was born January 16 and has been named Gabe.

The newcomer enjoyed his sunny debut alongside mum, Ema Elsa.

2_One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (27)

3_One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (29)

4_One-week-old Eastern black rhino calf, Gabe, steps out into the sunshine on his public debut (22)Photo Credits: Chester Zoo

Barbara Dryer, rhino keeper at the zoo, said, “It’ll take Gabe some time to get used to his surroundings, but he’s already super-feisty and doing all the right things, sleeping lots, eating well and looks very sturdy on his feet - he’s doing really well so far.

“We hope Gabe brings a lot of attention to the ever-growing need for the conservation of Eastern Black Rhino populations in Africa that are being slaughtered daily. The criminal gangs aren’t slowing down and in recent years there’s been a huge surge in illegal poaching, driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asia, as it’s ‘believed’ to have medicinal benefits – although scientific research has already proved it to be completely useless.

“For that reason, Gabe is particularly important to the European breeding programme for the species as he will add to the genetic diversity of Eastern Black Rhinos in zoos across Europe, helping to save the species from extinction in the future.”

Gabe is the third baby born at the zoo to 13-year-old mum, Ema Elsa, who was matched up with dad Kifaru, aged 31, by keepers at the zoo. The calf will now stay by her side for up to two years.

Chester Zoo has been successful in breeding a number of critically endangered Black Rhinos and plays a vital part in the European breeding programme, which is managed by the zoo’s Director General, Mark Pilgrim.

Groundbreaking science at the zoo has allowed researchers to monitor hormones levels in their female Black Rhinos to help discover the best time to introduce them to a potential partner, as well as diagnose pregnancies and estimate when they will give birth.

Chester Zoo is one of the main organizations fighting for the survival of the Eastern Black Rhino and has long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect Black Rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries across Africa.

The Eastern Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the wild, there are less than 650 remaining across Africa. At one time, the wild population was located in Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, and Kenya, but as of 2010 they can only be found in Kenya (594 animals) and in northern Tanzania (80 animals). A population of currently 60 animals is kept outside its natural range in South Africa.

The growing price of rhino horn has led to a massive decline in rhino numbers---a decrease of up to 97% across Africa in the past 50 years. 2014 was branded ‘the worst poaching year on record’ by leading conservationists after over 1,200 rhinos were hunted in South Africa alone - a 9,000% increase from 2007

Chester Zoo is one of the main organizations fighting for the survival of Eastern Black Rhino and has long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect Black Rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries in Africa

The Chester Zoo Black Rhino Programme started in 1999, in partnership with Save the Rhino, providing substantial financial support to Kenya Wildlife Service to enable the translocation of 20 Black Rhinos to wildlife reserves in the Tsavo region of Kenya

Recently the zoo has also provided support for rhinos in Chyulu Hills National Park and Laikipia District in Kenya and Mkomazi in Tanzania

In June 2015, the world’s leading experts on rhinos and rhino conservation came together in Europe for the first time when Chester Zoo hosted over 100 zookeepers, researchers, scientists and conservationists from the USA, Australia, Africa and Europe to debate issues surrounding the five species of rhino: Black, Greater One-horned, White, Sumatran and Javan Rhino.

Amazing video of the birth and more pics, below the fold!

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Christmas Calf Arrives at Taronga

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Christmas arrived a few days early at Taronga Western Plains Zoo when a White Rhinoceros calf was born on December 19.

The female calf is the third Rhino born at the zoo this year, with a male Black Rhino calf born in April and Australia’s first-ever Greater One-horned (or Indian) Rhino calf born in October.

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Photo Credit:  Taronga Western Plains Zoo
 
The calf was born to experienced mother Mopani, who is nurturing the calf extremely well.

“Staff are absolutely thrilled to be celebrating another precious Rhino birth, it is wonderful to end a hugely successful conservation breeding program on such a positive note for 2015,” said Zoo Director Matthew Fuller.

Keepers have named the calf Kamari, meaning ‘moonlight’ in Swahili, symbolizing the calf’s early morning birth.

“Kamari’s birth and the other successful Rhino births this year serve as a timely reminder about how important our conservation breeding programs are for species that are so heavily under threat in the wild,” said Unit Supervisor Pascale Benoit.

White Rhinos are native to a few areas in southern Africa, but were once found in most of Africa’s tropical grasslands.  They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to poaching for their horns, which are sold as traditional medicine in parts of Asia.  Rhino horns are also sold in some Middle Eastern countries to make handles for daggers, which are seen as status symbols. 

See more photos of the calf below.

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Meet the First Greater One-horned Rhino Born in Australia

Greater One horned Rhino calf_Photo by Bobby-Jo Clow_1

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of Australia’s first Greater One-horned Rhino calf! The male calf was born early on the morning of October 25th, to first-time mother Amala.

Zoo Keepers are closely monitoring both mother and calf, and although it is still early days, report that both are doing well.

“Amala is being very protective of him,” said Unit Supervisor Jennifer Conaghan. “She is keeping her distance from us and keeping the calf close, which is what we expected to see. In the last couple of days, Amala has brought the calf into a behind the scenes yard, and we’ve been able to monitor things more closely. We have seen the calf suckling and although it is still only days old, we are extremely happy with the situation so far and absolutely thrilled to have this new addition on the ground.” 

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Greater One horner Rhino calf with mother Amala_Photo by Ian AndersonPhoto Credits: Bobby-Jo Clow (Images 1,2); Ian Anderson (Image 3)Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to three species of rhino: Black Rhino, White Rhino (Africa) and Greater-One horned Rhino (Asia), and they have breeding and conservation programs for all three species.

The Greater One-horned Rhino breeding program commenced in 2009, when Amala arrived from Los Angeles Zoo to join resident male Dora (who came from Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo in Japan).

“This birth is a credit to years of work by the Zoo’s dedicated Life Sciences team to successfully introduce the two, an introduction which has produced a healthy calf following Amala’s 15 month gestation,” said Taronga Western Plains Zoo Director Matthew Fuller. “We’re the only Zoo in Australia to have three species of rhino, and three successful rhino breeding programs, so critical for these species that are all threatened in the wild.”

The Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, with as few as 2,700 animals left in the wild.

This recent birth follows the exciting arrival of a Black Rhino calf at the Zoo, earlier this year.

“The situation facing wild rhinos is devastating. Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat protection and reforestation, anti poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-rhino conflict. We’re also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation,” said Matt.

Amala and her calf will remain behind the scenes for the coming weeks where they can continue to bond.


Rhino Calf Arrives in Time for World Rhino Day

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Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are celebrating the birth of a Greater One-Horned Rhino calf.

Weighing in at a whopping 76kg (almost 12 stone or 167 lbs.), the calf, which keepers have named Bali (Nepali for ‘strong’) was born on the evening of September 6th, after a 17-month gestation. This is the fourth calf for 19-year-old mother, Behan. Her other calves have all moved to other Zoos to breed, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

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4_Whipsnade Rhino CalfPhoto Credits: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Bali is the 14th Greater One-Horned Rhino calf to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, which has an exceptional record with its breeding programme for the species. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was one of the first Zoos in the world to breed the species in 1957. ln the past 12 months, there have been only four Greater One-Horned Rhino births in three European zoos, with only one other in the United States of America. Young Bali was born just in time to celebrate World Rhino Day on September 22nd.

Deputy Team Leader Veronica Watkins, said, “The whole team is very excited to see the safe arrival of our newest rhino. To be involved in bringing one of these endangered animals into the world makes all of our efforts feel worthwhile, and it makes celebrating World Rhino Day this year feel extra special.

“The labour was relatively straightforward. Behan was restless the previous night so we suspected the birth was imminent, but once her waters broke we were able to monitor her carefully through CCTV cameras, without interfering in the process.

“The following day Bali was up and about, looking around at everything inquisitively. Behan, who has always been an excellent mother to her calves, was staying very close to him.”

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First Indian Rhino Calf of 2015 at Hellabrunn Zoo

1_Panzernashornbaby_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller (3) On September 9, a recently born Indian Rhinoceros baby was finally presented to the public, at Hellabrunn Zoo, offering visitors an opportunity to see the first Indian Rhinoceros born, worldwide, in a zoo in 2015. Mama rhino Rapti and her calf can now be seen in the Rhino House and its outdoor enclosure, at the Munich zoo.

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3_Panzernashornbaby_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller (4)

4_Panzernashornbaby_Hellabrunn_2015_Marc Müller (1)Photo Credits: Hellabrunn Zoo / Marc Müller

He is one of the last of his species, but fortunately the little rhino bull is not aware of how important he is. He runs and romps in his enclosure full of energy, enjoying the sun and from time to time giving mama Rapti several nudges and prods as a way of pestering her to come and play. As with most baby rhinoceros, this storm and stress phase is usually followed by moments of calm, when the little rhino lies down for a rest.

The yet to be named young bull was born at Hellabrunn Zoo on August 31, 2015 at 9:01 am. Since then, his mother Rapti has been looking after him with patience and care. He regularly nurses and receives a lot of body contact from her. He has not yet met his father, Niko, who also lives at Hellabrunn.

Three days after the birth, the baby rhino suddenly appeared to be in a weakened state. Zoo veterinarian’s and staff made a quick decision to keep the mother and child behind the scenes for a little longer and initiate intensive treatment. He was monitored around the clock by the keepers and examined and treated several times daily by the vets. The newborn calf was quickly back on his feet and was eventually given the all-clear.

There are currently just under 3,000 Indian Rhinoceroses (Rhinoceros unicornis) left on the planet, of which, just over 200 live in zoos. "The rhino bull is of great importance for the global conservation breeding programme," says Hellabrunn zoo director Rasem Baban, underlining the importance of breeding for conservation. "Hopefully he will bear many offspring."

The Indian Rhino is currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In addition to habitat loss, the rhino population has been brought close to extinction by hunting, primarily for their horn. The rhino horn - in the powdered form - is highly valued in traditional Asian medicine, even though it has no proven medical benefit, since the horn mostly consists of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair. The threat makes conservation breeding in zoos all the more important. There are only five zoos in Germany that keep Indian Rhinoceroses. Rapti, who was born in Nepal, is therefore particularly important for the gene pool of Indian Rhinos living in zoos. Her genes have now been successfully passed on to the newborn bull.

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White Rhino Girl Born at Tel Aviv Safari

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On August 24, Keren Peles, a 6-year old White Rhinoceros at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan in Israel, gave birth for the first time. The healthy female calf has been named Kipenzi (beloved). It is a tradition, at the Safari, to give offspring monikers starting with the same letter as their mother’s name.

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4_0927_2015_08_28_011Photo credits: Tibor Jager

Keren Peles arrived at the Safari about three years ago from Pretoria, South Africa, for reproduction purposes, with the aim of introducing a new blood line into the Safari's White Rhino group. The happy father of the new calf is 35-year old Atari, who is said to have been quite smitten with Keren Peles from the moment they met.

The calf's vital signs appear strong, and she remains close to her mother in a grove of trees in the African area. To the zookeeper's joy, shortly after birth, the calf was seen on its legs and suckling.

The new calf is the 27th born in the Safari. The Safari's contribution to the zoo population of White Rhinos is considerable, and the hope remains that one day it will be possible to help the wild population in Africa whose numbers are steadily declining.

The White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) is the largest species of rhino and consists of two sub-species: southern and northern. The Safari belongs to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s reproduction program. 

More pics below the fold!

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Rhino Calf ‘Crashes’ the Party at Cotswold Wildlife Park

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On August 18, Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, had a rather unexpected arrival. Their Southern White Rhino, Nancy, gave birth to her second calf. Keepers knew Nancy was pregnant, but the actual time of birth came as a bit of a surprise and was a little earlier than expected.

Births in captivity are considered extremely rare, with only fourteen White Rhinos being born in European zoos in the last twelve months. Cotswold Wildlife Park was responsible for two out of the three recorded UK births. The new addition is the sixth member to join the ‘crash’ (the collective noun for a group of Rhinos).  

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4_Baby Rhino in paddock with Nancy (6)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

 Curator Jamie Craig commented: “After almost forty years of desperately trying to breed from our old group of Rhinos with no success, we are delighted to now have had three calves since 2013. The newest member of the crash was somewhat more of a surprise than we’d like, but at present, all seems to be going well.”

It’s been a remarkable few years for the Rhino family. In 2013, first-time parents, Monty and Nancy (both nine years old), delighted staff and visitors when they produced the first calf in the Park’s forty-three year history - a female named Astrid. Two years later, she has been joined by a baby brother, who is yet to be named. To add to the celebrations, earlier this year, another of the Park’s breeding females, Ruby, gave birth to a male calf, named Ian.

Southern White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum simum) are the largest of the five Rhino subspecies and range throughout the grassland of Southern Africa. They are currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List and have always been an important species at Cotswold Wildlife Park, which was founded by Mr. John Heyworth in 1970. His son Reggie Heyworth, Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, commented: “You wait forty years, then it seems like three come along at once!  This is such a happy event for the Park, and I have to pinch myself when I see six rhinos on the lawn.”

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Rhino Calf Charges Into Lowry Park Zoo

Africa white rhino Alake and calf may 27 2015

A baby Southern White Rhinoceros born May 21 at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has increased the zoo’s herd by one, but the wild population of these magnificent beasts grows smaller every day.

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Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

  

 

The female calf is already important to the breeding population because she carries the genes of her mother Alaka, who came to the zoo from Africa.  Introducing new bloodlines is important for maintaining genetic diversity in the zoo-dwelling population.  The newborn marks the fourth successful Southern White Rhino birth and the seventh Rhino born in the zoo’s history.

The zoo is currently home to a herd of five Southern White Rhinos: three adult females from the Phinda Reserve in Africa, one adult male, and the newborn. In keeping with a natural herd structure, Alake and her calf have begun introductions to the other Rhinos and Grevy’s Zebras that share their habitat.

The White Rhinoceros has two horns at the end of its muzzle, with the largest in the front. Unlike some Rhinos, White Rhinos use their horns for defense. Females use their horns 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 80-140 pounds.

While the birth is welcome news for the managed population, record numbers of Rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year. Despite increased protection efforts, the number of Rhinos killed by poachers jumped 21 percent to 1,215. The current poaching crisis is driven by the demand for Rhino horn in Southeast Asia where horn, which is made up of keratin -- the same material found in human hair and nails -- is believed to have medicinal properties.   

See more photos of the Rhino calf below.

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