Taronga Western Plains Zoo is thrilled to announce the arrival of a male Black Rhino calf, born in the very early hours of Monday 20 April.
The yet to be named arrival is the second calf born to mother Bakhita, and the third calf born in 10 years to the Zoo’s internationally renowned breeding program for this critically endangered species.
“With just over 4000 Black Rhinos remaining and all five rhino species under enormous pressure in the wild, every birth is critical,” said General Manager Matthew Fuller.
“This little rhino is precious, as are all rhinos, and we’re hopeful that his birth will further highlight the need to protect these remarkable creatures.”
The calf, which weighs in at between 30-40kg, has already captured the hearts of zoo keepers. Its birth ahead of Mother’s Day is a great reminder of the achievements of the remarkable wild mothers in the zoo’s care.
“At three weeks of age, he is very confident and bold,” Keeper Jake Williams said. “He is full of energy and likes to run flat out around his yard first thing in the morning, sometimes venturing 15-20 metres from Bakhita before galloping back to her. He is a strong calf and doesn’t show much fear.”
Mr Williams said experienced mother Bakhita is taking things in her stride.
“She’s doing all the right things. She is alert when keepers approach her yard and is protective of her calf, but she quickly settles. She is a pretty relaxed mother.”
Bakhita and the calf will remain behind the scenes for the coming weeks where they can continue to bond, before going on public display in June.
The Black Rhinoceros is found in Africa. Currently there are about 4,200 Black Rhinos surviving in the wild. Poaching remains the major threat and in recent years has escalated due to demand for horn which is used in Asian medicine and is also a symbol of status.
“Already this year 550 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone,” Mr Fuller said.
“The situation is devastating. Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat protection and reforestation, anti poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-rhino conflict. We’re also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation.”
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to three species of rhino – Black Rhino and White Rhino (Africa) and Greater One-horned or Indian Rhino (Asia), with breeding and conservation programs for each of these species.