On September 22, on World Rhino Day, 16-year-old Black Rhinoceros Maburi gave birth to a female calf at Zoo Berlin. Then, after spending about three weeks in the barn bonding with her mother, the little girl stepped confidently into the Rhino yard on October 12.
Black Rhinos are born without horns, but you can already see two bumps on the calf’s snout. Her horns, which are made of the same material as human hair and fingernails, will gradually grow from these spots. Rhinos take about five to seven years to fully mature, and Maburi’s calf will nurse for about two years. Leaves, twigs, and vegetables will gradually be introduced to the calf’s diet.
The calf has not yet been named, but the zoo is accepting name suggestions on their Facebook page.
Zoo Berlin has a long history of caring for and breeding Black Rhinos, with 20 calves born over the years. Black Rhinos are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their numbers have dwindled to just a few thousand, and they survive mainly in southern and eastern Africa.
There are seven to eight subspecies of Black Rhino, and three of those subspecies have become extinct in the last 150 years; a fourth is precariously close to extinction. Rhinos are illegally poached for their horns, which are thought to have medicinal properties and spiritual powers, all of which are unproven. Even Rhinos under armed protection have been poached, highlighting the difficulty of advancing conservation goals amid the potential for illicit economic gains.