Posted on 19th February 2016 by Media Relations
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is proud to announce that Australia’s first Greater One-horned Rhino calf is now on display.
The male calf, which was born in the very early hours of Sunday 25 October 2015, has been named Rajah, meaning prince. Rajah is the first Greater One-horned Rhino to be born to the Zoo’s breeding program, and the first to be born in Australia.
“Rajah’s birth is the result of over 15 years of hard work and dedication from Keepers and Zoo staff,” said NSW Deputy Premier, Troy Grant.
“The Zoo’s efforts to establish a breeding program for Greater One-horned Rhinos began back in 2002 when construction began on a new facility. In 2003 a male Rhino, Dora, was imported from Japan and in 2009 Amala, a four year old female Rhino, arrived from the United States.”
As Amala matured, zoo keepers finetuned their husbandry techniques and learned more about Greater One-horned Rhino breeding habits. During this phase Senior Keeper, Ian Anderson, travelled to Assam, India, to participate in two Greater One-horned Rhino projects supported by Taronga.
Zoo Director, Mr Matthew Fuller said: “In 2012 introductions began with keepers spending months getting the pair ready to meet each other. Finally, in 2014 the pair was introduced and a mating took place and in October, our little prince was born.”
Rajah and his mother have spent the past four months bonding behind the scenes whilst keepers have built up trust and routines so that when Rajah is older he will be used to his keepers.
Mr Fuller said: “We’re thrilled to now introduce Rajah to the world. He has developed his own personality, is confident and very curious of people. We’ve noticed he is also quite fussy! His favourite treat is banana, however he doesn’t like it if the skin gets too brown or is too tough.”
Rajah’s birth marks the third species of Rhino to be bred at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. The Zoo has successfully bred both Black Rhinos and White Rhinos for many years, and in fact welcomed a calf to each species in 2015. Visitors will be able to see all three calves on display with their mothers these coming school holidays.
“Taronga Western Plains Zoo is the only zoo in Australia to have three species of rhino, and three successful rhino breeding programs, so critical for these species that are all under great threat in the wild,” said Mr Fuller.
The Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros is classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List with as few as 2700 animals left in the wild.