(DES MOINES, Iowa) — A zoo in Iowa is celebrating the recent birth of a rare baby black rhino.
The Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, announced the birth of a healthy endangered eastern black rhino Tuesday. The zoo’s 6-year-old eastern black rhino, Ayana, gave birth to the baby girl, who has not yet been named, on Oct. 11.
Mark Vukovich, the zoo’s CEO, said in a statement announcing the birth that “this is an extremely significant event — not only in Blank Park Zoo’s 50 year history, but also for this critically endangered animal species.”
A zoo spokesman told ABC News Tuesday that the baby rhino is “full of energy,” “very curious” and “always wants to keep up with Mama.”
The baby rhino weighed 80 pounds at birth and was standing, walking, and attempting to be fed within hours of being born, which are “all positive signs of a healthy baby rhino calf,” a zoo spokesman said in a statement Tuesday.
Kevin Drees, director of animal care and conservation at the Blank Park Zoo said, “The eastern black rhino is at a ‘tipping point’ in the wild–meaning that deaths, mostly due to poaching, will soon outnumber births.”
“The captive zoo population plays a role in survival of the species, and Blank Park Zoo has partnered with the International Rhino Foundation to secure the species future,” Drees added, saying he hoped this birth will raise awareness and bring attention to the critical wildlife situation.
The black rhinoceros has two horns and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, according to the International Rhino Foundation. Between 1970 and 1992, the population of wild black rhinos decreased by 96 percent, according to the foundation.
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