A rare baby white rhino born at a UK zoo has been hailed as a “little miracle”.
The southern white rhino calf was born at Africa Alive near Lowestoft, Suffolk to mother Njiri, aged nine, and 13-year-old father Zimba on Saturday.
The new arrival marks the first time a calf has been born at the park.
The zoo, run by the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), is a part of the European Breeding Programme for this species and is home to four southern white rhinos.
Keepers celebrated the arrival as the species was previously hunted to near extinction, leaving only 50-100 in the early 1900s.
Successful conservation efforts have helped to grow the number of rhinos to around 18,000.
However, they are classed as near threatened in the wild due to an increase in poaching.
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Claudia Roberts, CEO at the ZSEA, said: “This is a very exciting step forward in the conservation of this species and we are over the moon to have our first white rhino calf born at Africa Alive.”
Graeme Williamson, Head of Living Collections at Africa Alive, added: “the birth of this calf truly is a little miracle. Njiri and her baby are doing well, but she is a first-time mum and we are monitoring her closely.”
The newborn is yet to be named and keepers do not know if the calf is male or female.
Calves of this species typically weigh between 40kg (six stone four lbs) and 60kg (nine stone six lbs) at birth.
They are typically able to stand just an hour after birth, immediately attempting to suckle on their mother.
“Pregnant white rhinos will leave their group (or crash) shortly before the birth and will stay apart for a few days afterwards,” Williamson said.
“To replicate this natural behaviour, we set up a ‘birthing suite’ for Njiri away from the other rhinos which is monitored closely through CCTV cameras.”
The Rhino House is currently closed to the public to allow the calf time to bond with its mother but will be open at various intervals over the coming days for those hoping to get a glimpse of the new rhino.
Once keepers have introduced the calf to the other rhinos and other species in the exhibit, visitors will be able to see the baby rhino in the coming weeks.
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