For mother Bakhita this is her second calf. For Taronga’s internationally acclaimed breeding program it is the third calf born in the past decade.
“At three weeks of age, he is very confident and bold,” said Keeper Jake Williams.” He is full of energy and likes to run flat out around his yard first thing in the morning, sometimes venturing 15-20 metres from Bakhita before galloping back to her. He is a strong calf and doesn’t show much fear.”
Mother Bakhita is an experienced mother and is taking everything in her stride.
“She’s doing all the right things. She is alert when keepers approach her yard and is protective of her calf, but she quickly settles, She is a pretty relaxed mother.”
Currently the calf weighs in at between 30 and 40kg (66 to 88.2lb). His public debut is planned for June giving him and mum time to bond behind the bend the scenes.
When he makes his debut he will help to educate people on the bleak future which is currently facing wild black rhinos.
General Manger Matthew Fuller said, “With just over 4000 black rhinos remaining and all five rhino species under enormous pressure in the wild, every birth is critical.”
“This little rhino is precious, as are all rhinos, and we’re hopeful that this birth will further highlight the need to protect these remarkable creatures,” he added.
They face these threats as a result of poaching for their horn which is used in traditional medicines and as a status symbol.
Unfortunately the situation is not getting any better as Fuller explained, “Already this year 550 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone.”
Luckily Taronga Western Plains Zoo is working to save rhinos. Currently they manage breeding programs for Black and Southern White rhinos from Africa along with the Indian rhino from Asia.
They also support wild programs added Fuller, “Taronga actively supports conservation efforts for wild rhinos in Africa, Indonesia and India, including providing funds and support for habitat protection and reforestation, anti-poaching and rhino protection units and reduction of human-rhino conflict. We’re also a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation.”
Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo/ Rick Stevens