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White Rhino Calf with mother Mopani

White Rhino Calf with mother Mopani (Portrait)

Staff at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are thrilled and delighted by the birth of a male White Rhino calf in the early hours of Tuesday 14 May 2013.

First-time mother Mopani, who has lived at the Zoo since 2010, is doing extremely well, showing all the right maternal behaviours and being calm but protective of her calf.

“It seems the first rain we had in Dubbo in a number of months helped bring on the birth of this calf, which was spotted by a staff member on Tuesday morning,” said Senior White Rhino Keeper, Pascale Benoit.

“Everyone is just over the moon with the arrival of the White Rhino calf, especially given the tragic of the loss of four members of this herd to disease last year, and the plummeting numbers of all Rhino species in the wild.”

“Mopani is an amazing animal, having actually contracted the illness last year whilst carrying her calf. To come through that and give birth to this healthy calf is just remarkable,” said Pascale.

Every Rhino birth is important as poaching continues to increase in Africa.  According to the International Rhino Foundation, of which Taronga is a founding member, African Rhinos are barely keeping pace with the unprecedented poaching crisis.  Nearly 2000 Rhinos have been slaughtered across Africa since 2006, slowing population growth rates to some of the lowest levels in decades.   Whilst numbers of White Rhinos in the wild are remaining steady at present due to conservation action, it can all change very rapidly.

“It’s great to see the Zoo’s herd rebuilding, not only with the arrival of this calf but with Likewizi, another adult female, joining the herd earlier this year,” said Pascale. 

“This calf is not only an important birth for Taronga Western Plains Zoo, but for the species as a whole. Mopani had never bred before so to produce an offspring has created a new genetic line and greater genetic diversity within the White Rhino population throughout Australasia.”

“Every birth is critical for this species that is so heavily under threat in the wild,” said Pascale.

The yet to be named calf is on exhibit with mother Mopani and another adult female, Likewizi for visitors to see. 

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is located in Dubbo in Central Western NSW and is open every day. For more information about the Zoo visit the Taronga Western Plains Zoo's website or contact 6881 1400.

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