After a 16-month pregnancy, Chester Zoo finally welcomes endangered rhino calf

She’s adorable, endangered, and covered in wrinkly armored plating. The Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom has announced the birth of a greater one-horned rhino in a news release.

While the still-unnamed baby is just weeks old, she’s already an impressive size. She weighed in at 50 kilograms, or around 110 pounds, when she was born on October 14. As an adult, she’ll weigh more than 3,000 pounds, according to the release.

The calf was born to mother Asha on October 14.

The calf was born to mother Asha on October 14. And the birth has been a long time coming. The calf’s mother, Asha, had a 16-month long pregnancy, says the release.

The baby’s birth is exciting for the zoo – but it’s also a win for the species and conservationists worldwide.

There are just under 4,000 greater one-horned rhinos in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The large animals were once widespread across all of Nepal and India, but they were pushed to the brink of extinction due to hunting by the start of the 20th century. But protection efforts by the Indian and Nepalese governments have helped boost the species’ population from less than 300 to over 3,000, says the WWF.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature categorizes the species as “Vulnerable,” meaning they are at “high risk of extinction in the wild.”

“We’re absolutely thrilled with Asha and her new arrival,” said Sam Harley, the zoo’s rhino team manager, in the news release. “It’s been 4 years since a greater one-horned rhino calf was born here at Chester Zoo and they really are an incredible sight.”

Harley added that zookeepers suspected that Asha was close to giving birth because she was lethargic and not eating much. They used hidden cameras to monitor Asha as she went into labor.

“It was a true privilege to witness such a special event,” Harley said.

And the baby is happy and healthy, according to the zoo. Harley described Asha and her calf as “relaxed and calm, spending time side-by-side bonding together.”

The zoo has invited fans to vote between three different name options – Thuli, Jiya, and Bahula – for the calf on its Facebook page.


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