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Photos and Video: Critically-Endangered Black Rhino Born At Lincoln Park Zoo

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 29, 2013 4:30PM

Something is in the water at Lincoln Park Zoo. The latest addition to the Chicago zoo’s family is an Eastern black rhinoceros calf on Aug. 26.

The male calf weighed 60 pounds at birth, a huge arrival by any measure and is the first male calf is to be born at Lincoln Park Zoo since 1989. The calf is the first offspring for 8-year-old Kapuki, who was recommended to breed with 27-year-old Maku by the Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding and management strategy overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

“Mother and baby are both doing wonderfully,” said Curator of Mammals Mark Kamhout. “The calf divides his time between nursing, following mom around, and napping, and that is exactly what a baby rhino should be doing.”

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.

“This birth is cause for great celebration here at Lincoln Park Zoo and has been much anticipated,” said Kamhout. “The gestational period for rhinos is 15-16 months, and they have incredibly small windows for conception. 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.”

Lincoln Park Zoo has housed critically endangered black rhinos since 1982. In addition to working closely with the SSP, Lincoln Park Zoo supports 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.

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. These photos courtesy of the zoo will have to suffice for now. Check out those feet: This calf looks like an anime drawing brought to life!