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.
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!