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On Friday, Hamilton Zoo's Southern White Rhino Kito gave birth to a female calf who was unfortunately stillborn. The post-mortem examination found that the calf had bled internally as a result of a ruptured liver.

Kito has previously given birth to a male calf Ubuntu in March 2010. This was her first birth and Ubuntu was initially born blind in both eyes as a result of intraocular haemorrhage (bleeding into the eyes). After initial careful hand-raising he recovered and went on to become a normal healthy calf.

The birth process on Friday was not prolonged, and the cause of death is a rare but recognised condition seen occasionally in larger mammals.

Hamilton Zoo Curator Samantha Kudeweh, who is also coordinator for the Australasian region's white rhino breeding programme, said that the loss of the female calf is very upsetting. Zoo staff anticipate every rhino birth with excitement and this sad outcome is a shock to all.

Hamilton Zoo is one of the most successful breeding institutions in the region, with this being the eighth rhino calf bred at the site. Kito will remain part of the breeding herd and should successfully breed again.