Baby greater one-horned rhino born
Friday 10 September 2010
A tiny rhino calf born at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has delighted both zoo keepers and conservationists who work with his critically endangered species in the wild.
Weighing in at a whopping 13st – despite being less than 3ft high – the greater one-horned rhino baby is already throwing his weight around and keeping mum Behin busy.
Born just over a week ago on 31 August, the calf has been named Ajang, which is Nepalese for enormous. Behin is already mum to three-year-old Asha, but Ajang is the first offspring for Whipsnade’s mighty male rhino, Hugo, 12, who arrived from Poland two years ago.
Keepers kept a close eye on the labour and birth through a CCTV monitor set up next door to the “nursery paddock” where he was born, meaning they could watch everything without disturbing Behin or her calf.
Deputy section leader Veronica Watkins, who stayed glued to the action for three days, said: “It was a tough and exhausting labour for Behin, so it was terrific relief to watch her deliver a healthy young calf who was up on his feet in a very short time. She is being a fantastic mum too.”
But she added: “It’s great to build the population in captivity, but these animals aren’t doing so well in the wild where their species is under constant threat. We hope visitors who see Ajang will want to help us protect the last of his kind in the wild.”
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) undertakes comprehensive conservation work in Nepal to try to stabilise the dwindling population of these magnificent animals.
Threatened in the wild by poachers, invasive plants and habitat degradation, the greater one-horned rhino is critically endangered. ZSL works in the field to support systematic anti-poaching and monitoring patrols in Nepal.
Recently the country saw its first birth of a rhino calf since the uprising, which is a strong indicator that patrols are bringing the much-needed stability to the rhino population.
Visitors can see Whipsnade’s lively calf, who was up on his feet within 20 minutes of being born, gambolling around his yard with his more sedate mum, Behin, at the Rhinos of Nepal exhibit at the zoo.