Baby Black Rhino Born at Michigan Zoo on Christmas Eve
by Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
The world now has one more black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis). Born to 12-year-old mother Doppsee, a yet-to-be-named male calf was delivered as an “early holiday gift” at the Potter Park Zoo in Michigan on Christmas Eve, reports Derrick Bryson Taylor for the New York Times.
The birth marks a momentous first for the zoo, which has never before delivered a captive black rhino. The animals are “statistically and historically very hard to breed,” Pat Fountain, an animal care supervisor at the zoo, tells Taylor. In anticipation of the event, the zoo set up a video feed to broadcast the arrival of the calf, who tumbled into the world at 5:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
Just over 5,000 black rhinos remain in the wild—an improvement compared to the population’s all-time low from about 20 years ago, when numbers dipped below 2,500. But tens to hundreds of thousands of black rhinos roamed the plains and savannas of Africa prior to 1960, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Continued habitat loss, poaching and black market trafficking of the animals’ highly prized horns have since kept the species on the critically endangered list.