Rare Black Rhino Born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo

The calf was born on Halloween at Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo.

Say G’day to Taronga’s newest member, the rare southern black rhinoceros calf. The yet to be named rhino calf, was born to mother Bakhita and father Kwanzaa and is the second calf to be born this year at the Western Plains Zoo. The new birth is a triumph for the Zoo’s breeding program.

“We are very happy with the arrival of a healthy male calf born overnight on 31 October. Every birth is special but to have two Black Rhino calves born in one year is particularly exciting. We’re thrilled,” Keeper Scott Smith said.

Image: Black rhino calf, Rick Stevens, Taronga Western Plains Zoo

"The birth occurred in the early hours of Halloween, following a 15-month gestation period for Bakhita. It was a smooth delivery, and the calf is strong, healthy and well.

“Bakhita is an experienced and nurturing mother, and while she’s protective of her baby, she is relatively relaxed and trusting around Keepers. At just two weeks of age, the calf was showing his confidence and interacting with Keepers via a ‘creep’ yard - a fence opening large enough for the baby to pass through but too small for Bakhita,” Scott said.

The calf is getting used to its keepers in the ‘creep’ yard. This is so, later on, the calf will have a closer relationship with its keepers.

Image: Black rhino calf, Rick Stevens, Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“He has already been seen galloping around his behind the scenes enclosure and venturing a considerate distance from Bakhita for short periods of time. He’s an active calf and is very inquisitive about his surroundings.”

The calf will start to eat solid foods in a couple of months time. The black rhino will grow at a rate of around half a centimetre to one centimetre per month. Bakhita was the first rare black rhino born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

The southern black rhino is critically endangered. Due to poaching, there are less than 4000 left in the wild. Taronga is one of the founding members of the International Rhino Foundation. By breeding, the rhinos Taronga is helping conserve the species.

Video; National Geographic get up close and personal with the critically endangered Black Rhinoceros Bakhita with Taronga's Zookeeper Tarryn Williams and our host Hayden Turner.

Lead Image: Black rhino calf, Rick Stevens, Taronga Western Plains Zoo

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