Hamilton Zoo welcomes baby white rhino

A baby white rhino has been born at Hamilton Zoo.

The male calf arrived late last month following his mother's 16-month pregnancy, bringing the total number of white rhinos at the zoo to six.

He joins mother Kito, father Kruger, and females Imani, Moesha and her daughter Jamila.

The calf is the third for Kito. Ubuntu, born in 2010 was initially blind and needed help from keepers in his first few weeks until his eyesight cleared, and another female was stillborn in 2013.

But Aaron Gilmore, the zoo's team leader of ungulates (hooved animals), said the new arrival was healthy and very keen to feed.

"He's a determined little guy, weighing around 63kg and already showing his strength," he said.

"Depending on weather and his continued growth, school holiday visitors will hopefully have the chance to see him in the exhibit with his mother for short periods of time each day."

Seven rhinos have been born as part of the zoo's white rhino breeding programme.

Males Kifaru and Ubuntu went to The National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra

and males Inkosi and Mtoto are at Auckland Zoo. Females Imani and Jamila remain at Hamilton Zoo.

The male calf joins his mother Kito and father Kruger. Photo / Hamilton Zoo
The male calf joins his mother Kito and father Kruger. Photo / Hamilton Zoo

Named for the Afrikaans word "weit" which means wide, referring to the animal's wide mouth, the southern white rhino was thought to be extinct in the late 19th century, but in 1895 a small population of fewer than 100 individuals was discovered in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Today, after 121 years of successful protection and management, they are classified as "near threatened" in the wild.

Although still hunted and poached for their horns, which are believed to have medicinal qualities in some cultures, about 20,000 animals exist in protected areas and private game reserves.

"This calf is a very important part of the Australasian breeding programme, and will aid long-term conservation efforts at Hamilton Zoo and help provide a future for the species as a whole," Mr Gilmore said.

- NZ Herald

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