Rare Eastern Black Rhino Born at Chicago Zoo

By Mimi Nguyen-ly

Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago has welcomed a new member—a critically endangered eastern black rhino.

After more than a year of waiting, the zoo announced May 19 on Twitter that the 15-month pregnant eastern black rhino, whose name is Kapuki, had given birth.

“The calf is currently unsexed and unnamed but additional details will be shared as they become available,” a zoo spokesperson told CBS.

“After 15 months of pregnancy and a relatively quick labor, we’re excited to announce Kapuki gave birth!” the zoo said. “Kapuki’s maternal instincts kicked right in and she has been seen tending to the calf.”

The photo showed the calf on the ground as Kapuki tended to it.

“The calf stood up last night at only 53 minutes of age!” Lincoln Park Zoo wrote in another Twitter post.

On May 20, the zoo showed that the little calf had been observed nursing from Kapuki several times.

“The calf continues to surpass milestones!” the zoo wrote on Twitter, posting an image of the eastern black rhino and Kapuki. “The first 48 hours of a calf’s life are critical and we remain cautiously optimistic.”

But while social media has been giving viewers around the world a glimpse into the endangered animal’s first hours, the animals will not be on public display, a zoo spokesperson informed CBS Chicago.

“In the meantime, the animal care and veterinary staff continue to monitor Kapuki and the calf around the clock via remote camera system to give the rhinos privacy,” the zoo said on its website.

Lincoln Park Zoo said it will be posting further updates on the two animals via the zoo’s social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, using hashtags #lincolnparkzoo #RhinoWatch and #forwildforall, CBS reported.

Kapuki is 13 years old. The father of the calf is a 33-year-old rhino named Maku.

The latest calf is their second child. Back in August 2013, the pair welcomed their first calf, King, who now resides at Brookfield Zoo.

In March, the zoo had announced that Kapuki was expecting, and released footage of her undergoing an ultrasound. She weighed about 2,800 lbs (about 1,270 kg) at the time.

Eastern black rhinos are a target of hunters and are considered “critically-endangered” due to poaching for their horns, which some believe to have medicinal benefits, even though they are made of keratin, the same material that makes up human hair and nails. The species is featured on the red list of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The eastern black rhino population is estimated at between 5,000 and 5,500, mainly in East Africa, according to the World Wildlife Fund.