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Photo: Shallon McReaddie 

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is proud to announce that a healthy, female Southern White Rhinoceros calf was born on Thursday 10 April 2008 - and is now ready to meet the public!

NSW Environment Minister Verity Firth said the community will be able to see both mother and calf on exhibit at the Zoo from today.

"This adorable little calf is simply a must-see for anyone in the Dubbo area," Ms Firth said.

"But its significance extends even further than its considerable lovability."

It is the sixth calf born to the Zoo's White Rhino breeding program since 2003, when five Southern White Rhinoceros were transported from Kruger National Park in South Africa to add important genetic diversification to the Zoo's herd.

"The birth shows that the animals are well settled and comfortable in their environment," Ms Firth said.

"It is further proof of the exemplary animal management and husbandry practice of Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

"Six calves in five years is a great achievement for Zoo staff and demonstrates why this institution is considered a world leader in the management of Rhinoceros species.

"The Southern White Rhinoceros was until recently at the very brink of extinction. At the start of the 20th Century, there were no more than 200 Southern White Rhinos left in the wild. International conservation, research and breeding programs have boosted numbers, but poaching pressure is still intense and the species remains endangered.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is playing a significant role in the International Rhinoceros

Foundation's programs to protect the five species of Rhinoceros remaining in the world. The birth of a female calf will be a bonus for the Zoo's breeding program in years to come.

Apart from breeding programs for the White Rhinoceros and Black Rhinoceros, the Zoo also educates visitors about the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros, with one male on exhibit.

In addition to on site programs, the Zoo's Senior Veterinarian provides on call veterinary support to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary located in Way Kampas National Park, Indonesia.

The Sumatran Rhino is critically endangered, with only 300 individuals left in the wild.

"The Zoo's involvement in both the breeding and in situ programs for Rhinoceros species is making a major contribution to the long term survival of these species," Ms Firth said.

"The NSW Government is incredibly proud of the work underway at the Zoo.

"I encourage everyone to get down to the Zoo to view these absolutely magnificent animals for themselves."

Media Contacts: (for Minister Firth) David Boyd 0404 944 550

Quick Facts:

White Rhinoceros, Ceratotherium simum:

  • The White Rhinoceros is the second largest land mammal behind Elephants.
  • They are recognisable by their square lip and grey skin colour.
  • White Rhinoceros are sociable animals and are usually found in herds, unlike Black Rhinoceros.
  • White Rhinoceros were distributed over much of the perennial grasslands of tropical Africa but are now limited to a few areas in south east Africa, south of the Zambezi and also in north-east Africa, west of the Nile.
  • The gestation period for White Rhinoceros is 16 months.

Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos

The Zoos:
  • care for 4000 animals from over 350 species
  • conduct a huge range of conservation research, breeding and in situ projects from Antarctica to Mongolia and throughout Australia
  • provide wildlife health services to thousands of native animals each year
  • provide conservation messages to over 1.5 million visitors and conservation education to over 100,000 school students annually.
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