Black rhino conservationists celebrate rare birth of baby at British zoo!

Chester, UK - Zookeepers at Chester Zoo in northern England have welcomed the birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino.

Zuri the black rhino gave birth to a baby at Chester Zoo on November 12, in a huge boost to conservationists.
Zuri the black rhino gave birth to a baby at Chester Zoo on November 12, in a huge boost to conservationists.  © Chester Zoo

Rhino mom Zuri gave birth to a female calf on November 12 at 2:45 PM local time after a 15-month pregnancy.

Experts said it is "quite unusual" for a calf to be born in daylight, but this gave zookeepers a unique opportunity to capture the special moment on camera.

The eastern black rhino is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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This means there is a high possibility of them becoming extinct in the wild as there are fewer than 600 eastern black rhinos found across Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

Rhino team manager Emma Evison, who has closely monitored mother and calf, said: "We'd been eagerly awaiting this birth for 15 long months and, as it’s quite unusual for a rhino to give birth in daylight hours, we really didn't expect it to happen right in front of us as we were going about our day."

"To be able to witness the calf safely entering the world, in front of our very own eyes, was just the most incredible privilege."

"So far, the pair have been inseparable, and the little one is feeding regularly and already gaining in size and weight. She’s very inquisitive and full of energy, which is just brilliant to see."

Black rhino birth a big step in conservation

The black baby rhino is healthy, "very inquisitive and full of energy."
The black baby rhino is healthy, "very inquisitive and full of energy."  © IMAGO / Cover-Images

Evison said rhinos are hunted and poached for their horns, which are used in the traditional Asian medicine market.

Conservation efforts have led to a slight increase in rhino numbers across Africa in 2023, marking the first rise in over a decade.

"This precious newborn's arrival is another positive step in safeguarding the species, which is what the endangered species breeding program in European conservation zoos that we're a leading part of is striving to do," Evison said.

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"This program has already showed huge success, with a group of rhinos bred in zoos in Europe having been translocated to a protected National Park in Africa."

In June 2019, a group of eastern black rhinos were moved from European zoos to Akagera National Park in Rwanda as part of a project led by the zoo to increase the population.

Cover photo: Chester Zoo

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