West Midland Safari Park is celebrating the birth of its fourth southern white rhino in five years.
Third-time-mum, Ailsa, gave birth to the male rhino calf during the early hours of Monday 24th May, following a pregnancy of 16 months.
Under the watchful eye of eleven-year-old mum, the little one was given a brief health check by his Keepers who were able to confirm he already weighed in at 74 kilograms (11 and a half stone) and was doing very well.
The baby boy is another triumph for the Park in championing their breeding programme for white rhino. Two-and-a-half-year-old male, Granville, who was born in 2018, was the last white rhino born at the Park, and now has a new baby brother to join him out on the reserves.
Head of Wildlife, Angela Potter, said, “We are absolutely delighted to welcome a new white rhino calf. He is a very strong boy and has been growing in confidence settling in well since his birth last week. This is Ailsa’s third time as a mother, and as expected she’s been wonderful – we are very proud of her.
“With each rhino birth we have here at the Park, it’s a fantastic achievement for the European Endangered Species programme. All five species of rhino are decreasing in numbers, and we hope that this birth can continue in helping to bring more attention to the plight of rhino species in the wild.”
White rhinos are the larger of the two African rhino species, they are fairly social animals and live in loose groups in the wild of up to six animals. Their skin is grey in colour and not white, in fact it is no different in colour from black rhinos despite the names!
With wild rhinos continually facing a threat of poaching and habitat loss, the Park are committed to continuing their breeding programme, which works to create a reserve population of these magnificent animals who are listed as near threatened on the IUC red list. At the last count, just over 20,000 wild southern white rhinos remained in South Africa.
Although the new-born is yet to be named, the Park is asking the public to make the final decision from a shortlist of names supplied by their keepers, which will take place next week. The name will begin with ‘J’, as all names of babies born at the Park in 2021 will begin with this letter.
The youngster has already made his first tentative steps into his paddock and will eventually join his brother, Granville, on the Safari Drive-through within the next week.
The new birth now brings the ‘crash’ of southern white rhino at the Safari up to seven. This includes the new arrival’s father, fifteen-year-old Barney, who himself was born at the Park in 2005.