A Greater One-horned Rhino – a species that nearly went extinct in the 20th century – was born at the Wilds conservation center on November 11. This is the seventh Greater One-horned Rhino to be born at the Wilds.
The calf and his mom, Sanya, are doing well and have been bonding in the barn on the Wilds property. The animal care team has been monitoring the pair closely, but has not needed to provide any immediate assistance to the experienced mother. Calves usually weigh more than 100 pounds at birth and gain a few pounds every day. An adult Greater One-horned Rhino can weigh 4,000 to 6,000 pounds.
“Rhino conservation has come a long way in the past 100 years, but there is still work to be done,” said Daniel Beetem, director of animal management at the Wilds. “Rhinos continue to be poached for the misconception that their horns have medicinal value, when the horns are the chemical equivalent of human fingernails. Rhinos also face the imminent danger of declining habitat quality. We are proud to help keep this incredible species alive through our breeding program at the Wilds.”
Sanya, born in Toronto in 1999, has now given birth to four calves since arriving at the Wilds in 2004. The father, Rustum, was born at a zoo in India and imported to the United States in 2007 to bring genetic diversity to the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This newborn is Rustum’s fifth offspring.
The Wilds, home to four Greater One-horned Rhinos, is one of only 26 facilities in North America to care for this species. The Wilds is also home to 13 southern white Rhinos. In total, more than 500 animals representing 29 species from around the world make up the animal population at the open-range, natural landscape at the Wilds.
Once listed as an endangered species, the Greater One-horned Rhino have seen a steady population increase thanks to strict government protection. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there were only 600 individuals surviving in their native ranges of India and Nepal by 1975. Since then, researchers estimate the population has grown to exceed 3,000 Greater One-horned Rhinos living in these areas.