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