A Big Baby
60 pounds. 30 inches. Not your average vitals for a newborn. But when you’re dealing with a baby black rhino, it’s fair to expect things to be a bit outsized.
The “little” rhino, a boy, was born August 26. He’s the first offspring for 8-year-old mom Kapuki and 27-year-old dad Maku and the first rhinoceros born at the zoo since 1989. Right now he’s growing behind the scenes at the Harris Family Foundation Black Rhinoceros Exhibit, where animal care staff are keeping a close watch as the baby bonds with mom.
The new arrival is a welcome addition for a species that’s facing a conservation crisis in the wild. Wild rhinos are endangered, their numbers falling to just 5,055 individuals. These magnificent animals are illegally killed for their horns, which are falsely believed to have medicinal value.
Lincoln Park Zoo is doing its part to protect rhinos. Our scientists monitor rhino health as part of the conservation work in South Africa’s Addo Elephant National Park. Many of the techniques they use there were employed here at the zoo to successfully pair Maku and Kapuki.
Rhinos are naturally solitary—and territorial—animals, coming together only for brief intervals to breed. Introductions need to be carefully timed for when females are in estrus and receptive to the male’s approach.
How do you pinpoint the right time? Zoo endocrinologist and Davee Center Director Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., analyzed fecal samples collected by animal care staff to determine Kapuki’s reproductive cycle. This hormonal data—coupled with behavioral changes from Maku when Kapuki entered estrus—helped our animal care experts figure out the right time to introduce the two rhinos.
Now, after more than a year of gestation, we can see the adorable results of all this planning. Compliments to the scientists, the caregivers and everyone associated with the Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan®, who made the initial breeding recommendation to pair Kapuki with her geriatric, genetically valuable mate.
The baby rhino will remain behind the scenes for the next couple weeks, giving the baby a chance to deepen its bond with mom. I’ll be sure to share more milestones in the meantime…and let you know when you can see the little one in person.
Baby Rhino Behind the Scenes
Ever seen a baby rhino wag its tail? Watch the little one take tiny steps around mom in part of their off-exhibit birthing area.
Wine & Wildlife: Rescuing Rhinos
A Rhino Tribute for Endangered Species Day
South Africa Black Rhino Conservation
Make a Difference
Baby Rhino Wish List