UK zoo celebrates birth of critically endangered eastern black rhino

Zookeepers at Chester Zoo have welcomed the birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino.

Rhino mum Zuri gave birth to a female calf on November 12 at 2:45 pm after a 15-month pregnancy.

Experts said it is “quite unusual” for a calf to be born in daylight, but this gave zookeepers a unique opportunity to capture the special moment on camera.

The eastern black rhino is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This means there is a high possibility of them becoming extinct in the wild as there are fewer than 600 eastern black rhinos found across Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

Zookeepers at a Cheshire Zoo have celebrated the birth of a “critically endangered” eastern black rhino.
Zuri’s daughter was born on November 12th (Chester Zoo/ PA)

Rhino team manager Emma Evison, who has closely monitored mother and calf, said: “We’d been eagerly awaiting this birth for 15 long months and, as it’s quite unusual for a rhino to give birth in daylight hours, we really didn’t expect it to happen right in front of us as we were going about our day.

“To be able to witness the calf safely entering the world, in front of our very own eyes, was just the most incredible privilege.

“What’s most important now during these first few days is that mum Zuri and her new baby spend some time bonding and getting to know one another.

“So far, the pair have been inseparable and the little one is feeding regularly and already gaining in size and weight. She’s very inquisitive and full of energy, which is just brilliant to see.”

Ms Evison said rhinos are hunted and poached for their horns, which are used in the traditional Asian medicine market.

Conservation efforts have led to a slight increase in rhino numbers across Africa in 2023, marking the first rise in over a decade.

Zookeepers at a Cheshire Zoo have celebrated the birth of a “critically endangered” eastern black rhino.
Rhino experts from the zoo have said Zuri and her daughter have been “inseparable” (Chester Zoo/ PA)

“This precious newborn’s arrival is another positive step in safeguarding the species, which is what the endangered species breeding programme in European conservation zoos that we’re a leading part of is striving to do,” Ms Evison said.

“This programme has already showed huge success, with a group of rhinos bred in zoos in Europe having been translocated to a protected National Park in Africa.”

Director of animals and plants at Chester Zoo, Mike Jordan, said: “Our efforts to protect this magnificent species extend far beyond the zoo’s boundaries.

“While it’s incredibly positive news that conservation efforts across Africa have led to a small recovery in rhino numbers, giving them some much-needed breathing space, we know there’s still lots of work to be to done.

“Zuri and her new arrival is testament to the unwavering dedication of conservationists here at Chester, and around the world, who are working to safeguard these incredible animals and ensure that they thrive long into the future.”

In June 2019, a group of eastern black rhinos were moved from European zoos to Akagera National Park in Rwanda as part of a project led by the zoo to increase the population.