EASTERN BLACK RHINOS ‘CRITICALLY ENDANGERED’
Officials with the Kansas City Zoo say they welcomed a critically endangered eastern black rhinoceros calf in the early morning hours on Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve.
The calf and mother, Zuri, are both doing well.
The rhinos’ animal care specialists say that the calf is walking, nursing, and even playing spar with mom.
Zoo officials say Zuri has been a patient and attentive first-time mother. The rhino barn is being kept quiet with limited human interaction to allow mother and calf plenty of time to bond, which is a very important process. Once they’ve had that bonding time, a neonatal exam will be performed in the coming weeks to confirm gender and overall health.
The black rhinoceros gestation period is typically 15-16 months. Throughout her pregnancy, Zuri received weekly ultrasounds and blood hormone monitoring. Zuri’s animal care specialists trained with her in preparation for the regular checkups, so she was able to participate in her own care by patiently standing for the ultrasounds.
Both Zuri and father, Ruka, arrived in Kansas City from the Oregon Zoo in April 2018 on the recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan (SSP).
Zuri, 15, was born at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Ruka, 11, at the Saint Louis Zoo. This is a first calf for both.
Eastern black rhinoceros are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). With only about 740 left in the wild, it is the rarest of the three remaining black rhino subspecies and can be found in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.
There are just 53 eastern black rhinos in facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), so zoo officials say this arrival is not only exciting for the Kansas City Zoo but is very important for the subspecies as a whole.
The biggest threat to rhinos continues to be poachers who desire the rhinos’ horns. Through its Conservation Fund, the Kansas City Zoo is working with several programs in Africa that are working to stave off poaching and protect these incredible animals.
Zoo officials say in the coming days they will be sharing ongoing updates and photos on the Kansas City Zoo’s social media pages.
And, once the zoo knows the gender, there will be an opportunity for the public to participate in naming the calf.