If you thought delivering a baby was tough, spare a thought for the mother of a new baby rhino at ZSL Whipsnade!
Weighing in at a whopping 76kg (almost 12 stone), the calf, which keepers have named Bali (Nepali for ‘strong’) was born on the evening of Sunday 6 September after a 17 month gestation. This is the fourth calf for 19-year-old mother, Behan. Her other calves have all moved to other Zoos to breed, as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).
Bali is the 14th greater one-horned rhino calf to be born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, which has an exceptional record with its breeding programme for the species. ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was one of the first Zoos in the world to breed the species in 1957. ln the past 12 months there have been only four greater one-horned rhino births in three European zoos, with only one other in the United States of America.
“The whole team are very excited to see the safe arrival of our newest rhino," said Deputy Team Leader Veronica Watkin. “The labour was relatively straightforward. Behan was restless the previous night so we suspected the birth was imminent, but once her waters broke we were able to monitor her carefully through CCTV cameras, without interfering in the process.
“The following day Bali was up and about, looking around at everything inquisitively. Behan, who has always been an excellent mother to her calves, was staying very close to him.”
Greater one-horned rhinos are classified as Vulnerable by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, due to illegal poaching and a decline in quality of habitat. Native to India and Nepal, there are thought to be less than 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos left in the wild.
International conservation and science charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) works in Nepal to monitor and protect greater one-horned rhinos through an anti-poaching task-force and working alongside local communities. ZSL’s work in Chitwan National Park allowed the number of rhinos to rise from 100 in the late 1960s to 544 in 2000.
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