The amazing moment of a Rhino giving birth has been caught on camera at Chester Zoo. The 50-second footage shows the mother deliver her newborn and the tender first moments as she checks over her calf.
Born on January 31st, the female calf, which keepers have named ‘Fara’, is the offspring of 17-year-old ‘Kitani’ and 15-year-old dad, ‘Sammy’.
Sammy’s genes are extremely valuable as he has never before sired a calf since moving from Japan in 2002 to join the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for the critically endangered animals.
Curator of mammals at Chester Zoo, Tim Rowlands, said, “Kitani’s delivery was textbook. We got a ‘maternity suite’ ready for her with deep sandy floors and beds of hay but ultimately she chose her own spot.
“The footage has enabled us to witness this really special moment and both mum and youngster are doing really, really well.
“Every birth is cause for great celebration but given that Eastern Black Rhino face a real threat of extinction our new arrival is even more significant. The calf is super important to the breeding programme in Europe and her arrival is another step towards sustaining a black rhino population which, in the wild, is being ravaged by poachers on an almost daily basis.”
In the wild there are thought to be less than 650 Eastern Black Rhinos remaining, pushing the species perilously close to extinction.
Numbers in Africa are plummeting as a result of a dramatic surge in illegal poaching, fuelled by a global increase in demand for Rhino horn to supply the traditional Asian medicine market.
The problem is being driven by the astonishing street value of Rhino horn, which is currently worth more per gram than gold and cocaine.
“We hope that, one day, we can put an end to this crisis once and for all. But in the meantime we need to ensure we have an insurance population and that’s why this arrival, sired by a first time dad introducing new genes to the breeding programme, is such brilliant news. This means there’s a very happy team of keepers, vets and conservationists here at Chester Zoo today.”
“All being well, Fara will also one day play her own breeding role in a programme, which, in some cases, has already seen some Black Rhinos return to Africa to help boost numbers. For the time being though she is forging very important early bonds with mum.”
The calf is the latest in a long-line of arrivals at the zoo in the last two years, following Chanua, Dakima and Embu. She brings the total number of Eastern Black Rhinos at the zoo to eleven.