Endangered black rhino born at Chicago zoo

Harriet Brewis
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Endangered black rhino born at Chicago zoo

A critically endangered black rhinoceros has been born at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo after more than a year of waiting, the zoo has announced.

The eastern black rhino's 13-year-old mother Kapuki was 15 months pregnant when she finally went into labour.

"After 15 months of pregnancy and a relatively quick labor, we're excited to announce Kapuki gave birth!” the zoo announced in a Twitter post on Sunday.

“Kapuki's maternal instincts kicked right in and she has been seen tending to the calf. The next big milestones will be for the calf to stand and begin to nurse,” it added.

The message accompanied a photo of the calf lying on the ground next to its mother, taken via a remote camera “to give Kapuki and the calf privacy,” the zoo explained.

A subsequent tweet showed the calf affectionately nuzzling its mother, with a caption reading: “#RhinoWatch continues with the first of many important milestones – the calf stood up last night at only 53 minutes of age!

“Stay tuned for updates on the milestones the calf will go through in the critical first year of its life.”

Eastern black rhinos – native to East Africa – are listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, due to years of illegal poaching for their horn.

Black rhino populations declined from around 70,000 individuals in 1970 to 2,410 in 1995 – a decline of 96% over 20 years, according to figures released by The World Wildlife fund.

However, thanks to conservation efforts this number has risen to more than 5,000, with a population of around 60 eastern black rhinos kept in habitats outside their natural range, including Lincoln Park Zoo.

The zoo said its animal care and veterinary teams would continue to “monitor from afar” as Kapuki cares for her calf, saying staff felt “cautiously optimistic” at the baby rhino’s progress.

“The calf continues to surpass milestones!” the zoo tweeted in an update on Monday.

“Since last night, the calf has been observed nursing several times. The first 48 hours of a calf’s life are critical and we remain cautiously optimistic.”

The zoo has encouraged animal loves to “stay tuned for more updates” on social media.

However, in respect of the rhinos’ “privacy”, Kapuki and her calf will not be put on display for now, a spokesperson told CBS Chicago.