The Heartwarming Moment A Rare Baby Rhino Is Welcomed Into The World Is Captured By Zookeepers At Chester Zoo
Conservationists at Chester Zoo have shared their “joy” following the birth of one of the world’s rarest mammals, a critically endangered eastern black rhino.
The female calf was safely delivered onto a bed of soft sand by new mum Zuri on Sunday 12 November at 2:45pm, following a 15-month pregnancy.
Rhino experts say it’s “quite unusual” for a calf to be born in daylight, which gave keepers the unique opportunity to capture the special moment on camera.
Heartwarming images of the new baby during its first few days of life show the new baby sticking closely to mum.
The eastern black rhino is listed as critically endangered by the world’s authority on the state of nature, The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning it faces a very high chance of becoming extinct in the wild. Less than 600 are now found across Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Conservationists say the birth of a healthy calf will help global efforts to prevent the species from disappearing altogether.
Rhino Team Manager Emma Evison, who has been closely monitoring mum and calf, said:
“We’d been eagerly awaiting this birth for 15 long months and, as it’s quite unusual for a rhino to give birth in daylight hours, we really didn’t expect it to happen right in front of us as we were going about our day. To be able to witness the calf safely entering the world, in front of our very own eyes, was just the most incredible privilege.
“What’s most important now during these first few days is that mum Zuri and her new baby spend some time bonding and getting to know one another. So far, the pair have been inseparable and the little one is feeding regularly and already gaining in size and weight. She’s very inquisitive and full of energy, which is just brilliant to see.
“Sadly this is a species that, for more than century, has been hunted down and poached for its horn before being sold on the illegal wildlife markets. This precious newborn’s arrival is another positive step in safeguarding the species, which is what the endangered species breeding programme in European conservation zoos that we’re a leading part of is striving to do. This programme has already showed huge success, with a group of rhinos bred in zoo’s in Europe having been translocated to a protected National Park in Africa.”
The illegal wildlife trade – the world’s fourth biggest international crime – is the main driver in thousands of species disappearing from the wild, including the eastern black rhino. The demand for rhino horn, stemming from the traditional Asian medicine market, has seen 95% Africa’s rhinos wiped out by poaching.
However, new figures released this year show that, for the first time in more than a decade, rhino numbers have increased slightly across Africa due to successful conservation efforts.
Mike Jordan, Director of Animals and Plants at the zoo, added:
“Our efforts to protect this magnificent species extend far beyond the zoo’s boundaries and, while it’s incredibly positive news that conservation efforts across Africa have led to a small recovery in rhino numbers, giving them some much needed breathing space, we know there’s still lots of work to be done.
“We’re home to the UK’s only zoo-based animal endocrine lab where we’ve developed the skills and techniques to track rhino hormones by closely analysing their dung. This has helped us to massively improve the chances of a successful mating and further increase numbers of this critically endangered species. The technology is so precise that we’re now transferring it to a specialist lab in Kenya which is helping rangers and vets there to support growth of the wild population.
“Zuri and her new arrival is testament to the unwavering dedication of conservationists here at Chester, and around the world, who are working to safeguard these incredible animals and ensure that they thrive long into the future.”
In June 2019 the zoo also spearheaded a project that saw a group of Eastern black rhinos, bred as part of the safety-net population in European zoos, translocated from Europe to Akagera national Park in Rwanda, Africa.