A Critically Endangered eastern black rhino calf has been born at Folly Farm. After a 15-month pregnancy, first-time mum Dakima gave birth to a healthy male calf on 16 January – one of only an estimated 40 eastern black rhinos to be born in the UK in the past 20 years.
Eastern black rhinos are classed as Critically Endangered due to poaching and loss of habitat. There are thought to be fewer than 650 left in the wild and around 87 in zoos across Europe, including Folly Farm’s new addition. Born just ten minutes after the mum’s waters broke, the calf made its appearance at 4:37am and within a couple of hours was standing up, following Dakima around the enclosure and suckling from mum.
Dakima arrived at Folly Farm in May 2017 as part of a breeding programme and met the love of her life, Nkosi. Mating rhinos can be unpredictable, but their relationship blossomed and Dakima is thought to have conceived in October 2018.
Folly Farm zoo curator, Tim Morphew, said: “We couldn’t be happier to welcome our new arrival - Dakima has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. She’s being very protective of the baby which is great because it shows they have a strong bond.
"This is the most important baby ever to be born at Folly Farm and is such a monumental event for all the staff here. Ever since the breeding pair arrived in 2017, we’ve worked hard to create an environment where they’ve felt comfortable to mate.
“Not only is this calf helping to increase numbers of a Critically Endangered species, he’s also the first rhino ever to be born in Wales.”
Along with other zoos across Europe, Folly Farm is part of a breeding programme to help increase the numbers of Eastern black rhino in captivity and, ultimately, the wild.
It is thought that the calf weighs between a healthy 30-45 kg. Folly Farm’s rhino keepers will monitor mum and baby closely over the coming weeks and they will be back out in the enclosure in due course. Folly Farm’s Kifaru Reserve is a £500,000 purpose-built exhibit which highlights Folly Farm’s commitment to conservation through the projects it supports in the wild and closer to home.
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