The Lincoln Park Zoo is reportedly thrilled to announce the Aug. 26 birth of an Eastern black rhinoceros calf. Weighing in at around 60 pounds at birth, he is certainly a big bundle of joy.
First time mom Kapuki, 8, was recommended to breed with 27-year-old Maku by the Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and management strategy overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), zoo officials said. The male calf is the first to be born at Lincoln Park Zoo since 1989.
“Mother and baby are both doing wonderfully,” curator of mammals, Mark Kamhout, said. “The calf divides his time between nursing, following mom around, and napping, and that is exactly what a baby rhino should be doing.”
Kamhout continued, adding that the birth is "cause for celebration."
“The gestational period for rhinos is 15 to 16 months, and they have incredibly small windows for conception," he said. "Together with the zoo’s endocrinologists, we worked to pinpoint the exact window for Kapuki and Maku to get together for breeding. The whole zoo family is delighted at this successful outcome.”
Zoo officials say they are dedicated to rhino conservation. The organization is home to three adult Eastern black rhinos and has been housing critically endangered black rhinos since 1982.
In addition to working closely with the SSP, those at the zoo support rhinos through field work in their native South Africa. The information zoo scientists gather on rhino hormone levels, parasites, and sleep patterns increases global understanding of how to manage and conserve the species, officials said.
Kapuki and her calf will be bonding behind the scenes at the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Habitat for the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye on the zoo’s social media outlets and website for news about the baby and a public debut date.
Black rhinos are critically endangered and were nearly driven to extinction in the 1990s.
They are a major target for poachers, mainly due to a misconception in some cultures that their horns have medicinal value. Recent estimates put the total number of wild black rhinos at around 5,000.