First Indian Rhino Calf of 2015 at Hellabrunn Zoo
September 16, 2015
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.
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.
Niko and Rapti, parents of the Indian Rhino baby, have known each other since 1990. In August 1989, Rapti travelled from her native Nepal to Munich. Niko (born on Nov. 27, 1988) arrived at Hellabrunn shortly after, from Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart.
Zoo visitors were invited to submit suggestions for names for the newborn calf. The only condition was the name must begin with the letter "P", since all animals born at Hellabrunn in 2015 are given names with that letter. In addition, the zoo is looking for a name that makes reference to Rapti's country of origin, Nepal. The names have been submitted to the editorial staff of the newspaper Münchner Merkur, who will ask their readers to vote. The winning name will be announced after the second round.