Image: © Jake Williams/ Taronga Western Plains Zoo

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Celebrate Black Rhino Calf


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


April 30, 2023 8:02 am


London Zoo, London, The United Kingdom

Taronga Western Plains Zoo are celebrating the birth of a black rhinoceros calf with the milestone achieved through a world-first technique. Mother Kufara welcomed her male calf on April 14th 2023. At present mother and calf are bonding in an off-display paddock where they will spend the next few months.

Black Rhino Supervisor Jennifer Conaghan said, “Zookeepers were given a rare treat when they actually witnessed the birth. Historically Southern

Black Rhinos here at the Zoo have been born overnight after a 14–16-month gestation. This little calf was born feet first at 11.15am in a behind-the-scenes birthing yard.”

Keepers had a record setting wait to meet this new arrival. The longest recorded gestation period for the black rhino was previously 486 days but Kufara was pregnant for a total of 490 days.

“We knew exactly when Kufara’s mating occurred, so we were keeping a very close eye on her throughout and as she approached the end of her gestation,” said Rhino Keeper Jake Williams.

“We ran some tests to make sure both mum and calf were doing well, and the very next day Kufara gave birth to a healthy boy. Both mum and calf are doing really well. Being present to witness the birth was a very special moment and something we will never forget.”

This is the second calf for Kufara (13) with her first, Mesi being born in April 2017. In the wild it is typical for a black rhinoceros to conceive once every 2.5 to 4 years.

“After Kufara’s first calf became more independent, we re-commenced monitoring of her reproductive cycles and behaviour, however she had trouble conceiving,” Taronga’s Manager of Conservation Science Dr Justine O’Brien said.

Around the same time this issue was identified, Taronga’s Conservation Scientists, Veterinarians and Keepers were undertaking a collaborative rhino research program with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and SeaWorld USA’s Species Preservation Lab, along with other conservation partners, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Taronga Foundation.

“Knowledge of the species’ biology generated from this, and previous programs, was integrated into Kufara’s clinical treatment to address her infertility,” Dr O’Brien said.

“This involved Kufara receiving a series of hormone treatments by our veterinary and rhino keeper teams and builds on a multi-decade program of rhino reproductive research at Taronga.”

Only 6,500 black rhinos remain in the wild. Habitat loss and poaching to supply the illegal wildlife trade threatens the species. Taronga is a founding member of the International Rhino Foundation, and Taronga Western Plains Zoo is internationally renowned for its Black Rhino conservation breeding program.

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More on the Black Rhinoceros!

You might notice the black rhinoceros is not coloured black. So how did they get their name? Find out with our fact file.

Our Favourite Black Rhino Fact!

The black rhinoceros has a hooked upper lip. This can be used by them to easily take the browse which they will eat off of the trees. Their diet can include as many as 220 different plants.

Image: © Jake Williams/ Taronga Western Plains Zoo

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