by Jade Small
With only 5,000 black rhino left in the wild, the species has been on the critical endangered list since the last century. Just over 50 are in the care of accredited zoos worldwide which makes the birth of every black rhino cause for celebration.
On Christmas eve, Potter Park Zoo in Michigan celebrated the birth of a little baby rhino boy, as yet unnamed, to 12 year-old mom Doppsee.
A first baby for Doppsee and the first black rhino born in the 100 year history of Potter Park Zoo.
Doppsee’s baby was up and standing about an hour and a half after the birth and appears to be nursing well, according the animal care and veterinary staff at the zoo. He’ll be spending his first few months behind the scenes bonding with his mum, the zoo’s blog explains.
The baby will venture out and seen by the public, if the weather is favorable, in spring 2020. Meanwhile, staff at the zoo will post updates and pictures of the baby on social media.
Cynthia Wagner, Director of Potter Park Zoo, emphasized the importance of the birth, saying:
‘’This is a monumental moment for Potter Park Zoo that has taken our staff years of planning and hard work. We are dedicated to conserving rhinos and couldn’t be more excited about this successful black rhino birth.
As the new calf is Doppsee’s first, the animal care and veterinary staff will continue to monitor both mum and baby closely over the next next few weeks.’’
Potter Park Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Ronan Eustace, explained:
‘’So far, the rhino calf appears healthy and we have observed frequent nursing shortly after the birth, which is encouraging.’’
The zoo explained that black rhinos are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching and loss of habitat. According to the WWF, populations declined dramatically in the 20th century, dropping by 98 per cent between 1960 and 1995.
Thanks to persistent conservation efforts, the species has since made a comeback, but tremendous effort is required to bring the population up to even a fraction of what it once was.
Hopefully Potter Park Zoo’s long overdue baby rhino will be first of many more worldwide.