The Atlanta Zoo announced the birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros calf on their website late Sunday evening. The arrival occurred on Saturday, August 17, 2013. This blessed event marks the first time a black rhino was born at the zoo in its 124 year history.
Born to Andazi, a 7 year old, and her mate Utenzi, a 9 year old, the calf appears to be in good health and is bonding well with its mother. Both Andazi and Utenzi are first time parents. According to Raymond B. King, President and CEO:
We couldn’t be more delighted about this birth. Not only is this a first for Zoo Atlanta, going all the way back to our founding in 1889, but this is a critically endangered species that absolutely deserves the spotlight right now. We hope that as we watch the calf grow up, we can spark new connections with wildlife that desperately need our support.
The black rhino is an herbivore that is found in the grassland-forest transition zones of Africa, but it can also be found in habitats such as the desert areas of south western Africa and montane forests in Kenya. Since its behavior and eating habits restricts its movements to always be within 15 miles of a water source, the black rhino normally is seen cooling off in mud and water ways.
Sadly the black rhino is critically endangered with less than 5,000 remaining. Hunting, poaching and habitat loss are the main threats to its survival and it is estimated that about five to six black rhinos are slaughtered each day. Trading practicing in rhino horns and poverty are factors that make it difficult to fight illegal poaching. Breeding programs in zoos and sanctuaries are essential for the eastern black rhino’s survival and ability to ward off extinction which is a real possibility. Its cousin the West African black rhino was officially declared extinct in 2011 due to illegal poaching and a lack of protection programs.
Atlanta Zoo’s newest resident has been confirmed to be a boy but the characteristic horn is not yet visible. It will be some time before the calf is on exhibit for the public to see; however, anyone can visit the zoo’s website and social media sites like Facebook to keep track of the calf’s progress.
If you would like to receive email alerts for future articles published on Wildlife Headlines, you can subscribe here. It is completely free and you will remain anonymous. Also, join Carol Ann on Facebook and view previous articles published on wildlife, animal advocacy and environmental issues. Don’t be shy to comment or provide suggestions.