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Eastern Black Rhinoceros born at Zoo Atlanta | News

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Eastern Black Rhinoceros born at Zoo Atlanta

ATLANTA -- Andazi, a 7-year-old eastern black rhinoceros, gave birth to a calf late evening August 17, 2013. The new arrival is the first black rhino born in Zoo Atlanta's more than 124-year history.

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The calf appears to be healthy and Andazi is providing appropriate maternal care, according to the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams, who continue to monitor the pair closely. The newborn, who does not yet have its species' signature horn, will have an opportunity to bond with its mother behind the scenes before meeting Zoo Members and guests.

"We couldn't be more delighted about this birth. Not only is this a first for Zoo Atlanta, going all the way back to our founding in 1889, but this is a critically endangered species that absolutely deserves the spotlight right now," said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. "We hope that as we watch the calf grow up, we can spark new connections with wildlife that desperately need our support."

Andazi's pregnancy was confirmed in December 2012 using fecal hormone assays run at St. Louis Zoo. Members of the Zoo Atlanta Veterinary and Animal Management Teams got their first views of the calf via ultrasound in summer 2013. Rhinos have one of the animal kingdom's longer gestation periods, ranging anywhere from 14 months to 18 months. Calves are generally weaned by the time they are about 2 years old and may remain with their mothers for three to four years.

Andazi and her mate, 9-year-old Utenzi, were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Rhino Species Survival Plan, which seeks to maintain a genetically diverse, self-sustaining rhino population within accredited North American zoos. This is the first calf for both Andazi and Utenzi, who will not share space with his new offspring. Black rhinos are solitary in the wild, coming together only for breeding.

Hunted almost to extinction in the 1980s, eastern black rhinos have experienced near-catastrophic population declines in recent decades, largely as a result of poaching for their horns, skin and other body parts, which are believed by some cultures to have medicinal value. Conservation programs and stringent patrolling of rhino habitat have helped populations increase to around 4,800 in the wild, but the species remains critically endangered. The eastern black rhino's relative, the western black rhino, was declared extinct in 2011.