INDIANAPOLIS — Most of America’s eyes on Sunday might have been on Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas but about halfway across the country 1,600 miles away in Indiana, the Indianapolis Zoo celebrated a different kind of victory -- the birth of a rare white rhino.
With an estimated global population of less than 17,000 white rhinos left in the world, according to Save the Rhino, an international Rhino conservation charity, the live-birth in captivity of the white rhino calf, a first for the Indianapolis Zoo, is considered a big victory.
“Indianapolis has its own big winner to celebrate today with the arrival of a white rhinoceros calf born at 9:13 a.m. to 19-year-old mother Zenzele,” the zoo said in it’s birth announcement.
This is the first live-birth rhinoceros calf for the Indianapolis Zoo and Zenzele’s seventh calf.
Rhinoceros care staff began overnight watches early this month when Zenzele started producing milk and showed physical signs of impending labor, according to the Indianapolis Zoo.
“Zenzele is an experienced and confident mom and everything is going very well,” said senior rhinoceros keeper Amber Berndt.
Both Zenzele and her calf are doing well, and keepers say Zenzele is relaxed and the calf is content.
Zenzele’s new baby calf now brings the zoo’s herd of rhinoceroses to five, including male Spike and females Mambo and Gloria, who is also Zenzele’s grandmother.
Both Zenzele and her baby will spend the next several weeks together indoors and will begin introductions with other members of the herd later this spring.
“Our Life Sciences team has done a tremendous job. It is a privilege for our Zoo to care for these magnificent animals and advocate for their conservation,” said Dr. Robert Shumaker, Indianapolis Zoo President & CEO.
White rhinos have a gestation period of approximately 16 months and mothers usually give birth for the first time around the age of 7 years old, according to Save the Rhino.
“In the wild, rhinoceros populations are threatened by habitat loss and poaching,” said the Indianapolis Zoo. “Four of the five remaining species of rhinoceroses are at risk of extinction, according to the International Rhino Foundation. White rhinos are categorized as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.”
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