Twelve-year-old critically endangered black rhino Doppsee has given birth to a new son in a fantastic moment on Christmas Eve.
The calf, who doesn’t have a name yet, is the first black rhino that has been born at Michigan’s Potter Park Zoo in its 100-year history.
The birth, which took place at 5:40am on 24 December, was videoed and released on the park’s social media channels, where you can see Doppsee nursing her son within minutes.
Potter Park reported that the calf was standing up an hour-and-a-half after he was born, with animal care and veterinary staff saying that he appears to be nursing well.
Potter Park Zoo veterinarian Dr. Ronan Eustace said: “As this is Doppsee’s first pregnancy, the animal care and veterinary staff will continue to monitor Doppsee and her calf closely in the next few weeks.
“But so far, the rhino calf appears healthy and we have observed frequent nursing shortly after the birth, which is encouraging.”
Cynthia Wagner, Director of Potter Park Zoo, said: “This is a monumental moment for Potter Park Zoo that has taken our staff years of planning and hard work. We are dedicated to conserving rhinos and couldn’t be more excited about this successful black rhino birth.”
According to the zoo, Doppsee and her son are bonding behind the scenes in the rhino barn but the calf will not be visible to the public until weather allows in the spring of 2020.
Replying to the video, one person wrote: “What an exciting time for the Potter Park Zoo! Congratulations to the care and vet teams for your dedication to the rhinos. Continued prayers that all will go well with the new little one and his mom.
“We look forward to seeing his growth and interaction with his mom as much as you are able to share with the outside world, and we can’t wait to see him in the Spring!”
Black rhinos are critically endangered and are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching and loss of habitat. Current estimates show that only about 5,000 individual black rhinos are alive in the wild today.
There are just over 50 black rhinos in the care of AZA accredited zoos which are managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP maintains a genetically healthy population of black rhinos in zoos.
The father, Phineus, came to Potter Park Zoo in 2017 from Texas specifically to breed with Doppsee. On average less than two black rhino calves are born in human care each year, making every calf born vital to this endangered population.