After 15 months of gestation, Lincoln Park Zoo was excited to welcome a new arrival. On May 19, Kapuki, an Eastern Black Rhinoceros, gave birth to a healthy male calf at the zoo’s Regenstein African Journey. Since the birth, the calf has surpassed critical milestones, including: standing, nursing, pooping, and following mom, Kapuki.
The first days of a calf’s life are critical, and animal care staff are closely monitoring both Kapuki and the calf, around-the-clock, via remote camera system.
“As with any birth, we are cautiously optimistic about the latest arrival,” said Curator of Mammals Mike Murray. “However, this calf stood successfully at only 53 minutes of age and was nursing by hour two. He is growing in size and strength each day.”
Thirteen-year-old Kapuki was recommended to breed with Maku, age 33, as part of the Eastern Black Rhinoceros Survival Plan® (SSP), a collaborative population management effort among Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. Kapuki and Maku had previously been successful in producing offspring with the birth of King in 2013. As part of an SSP recommendation for the solitary species, King was transferred to Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo in November 2016.
Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to rhino conservation and is home to three adult rhinos: Maku, Kapuki, and Ricko, along with its newest arrival.
“Although the calf is adorable, its birth means so much more than that,” said Murray. “Three rhinos are poached in Africa each day for their horns. At this alarming rate, this new calf gives us hope for the sustainability of the species.”
Gestation for Eastern Black Rhinos is about 14-16 months with offspring weighing around 75 pounds. Typically, Black Rhinos are a solitary species that only come together to breed. When full grown, Eastern Black Rhinos can stand up to 12 feet long and 5 feet tall at the shoulder, and can weigh up to 3,000lbs. Eastern Black Rhinos are a critically endangered species due to poaching for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal benefits despite being made of keratin – the same material that makes up human hair and nails.
For more information about the species and Lincoln Park Zoo’s rhino conservation efforts, visit www.lpzoo.org. Those interested in helping care for mom and calf all year long may ADOPT a black rhino at www.lpzoo.org/adopt or shop the Wish List at www.lpzoo.org/wish-list.