The Kansas City Zoo got a special start to the new year: A critically endangered subspecies of rhinoceros gave birth to a calf on Dec. 31, officials announced. The calf is walking, nursing and even playing with its mother, Zuri, animal specialists said.
To let the calf and mother bond, the zoo is holding off on conducting an exam to determine its gender and health. The public will be able to help the zoo name the calf.
“Zuri is a patient and attentive first-time mother,” the zoo said in a Facebook post.
Save the Rhino, a rhinoceros conservation charity, said that a female rhino will be pregnant for 15-17 months before finding a solitary place to give birth.
The rhinoceros calf will stay with its mother for two to four years. Black rhinos can live between 30 and 35 years in the wild and 35 to 45-plus years in captivity, the charity said.
There are only 740 eastern black rhinoceroses left in the wild, the zoo said, making the birth of the calf even more significant. Save the Rhino cites poaching and lack of a safe habitat as the worst threats against the species.
The World Wildlife Foundation said that the rhino’s horn makes them targets for poaching, and that political instability in Africa, its habitat, is driving those efforts. The horns are used in Asia for herbal remedies, the foundation said.