On New Year’s Eve, an eastern black rhinoceros calf was born at the Kansas City Zoo to mama rhino, Zuri, and dad rhino, Ruka.
The new calf’s parents came to the Kansas City Zoo in 2018 as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan to protect the endangered species. Eastern black rhinoceros are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). With only about 740 left in the wild, it is the rarest of the three remaining black rhino subspecies and can be found in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.
According to the Kansas City Zoo’s rhinos’ animal care specialists, “the [baby] calf is walking, nursing, and even playing spar with mom. Zuri has been a patient and attentive first-time mother. The rhino barn is being kept quiet with limited human interaction to allow mother and calf plenty of time to bond, which is a very important process. Once they’ve had that bonding time, a neonatal exam will be performed in the coming weeks to confirm gender and overall health.”
Through its Conservation Fund, the Kansas City Zoo is working with several programs in Africa to stave off poaching—the biggest threat to eastern black rhinos—and protect the species. Once the zoo has determined the gender of the calf, there will be an opportunity for the public to participate in naming them!