Polish Zoo Welcomes Endangered Indian Rhinoceros Baby: ‘Best Gift’
The female calf was born on Jan. 6 to first-time mom Maruška
New year, new arrival!
An endangered Indian rhinoceros was born earlier this month at Poland's Wroclaw Zoo.
"The little one was born on Wednesday, January 6," the zoo wrote on Facebook post, alongside a video documenting her birth — which shows the baby bonding with her mother Maruška as well.
"It was my birthday, and I got the best gift I could ever dream of," zookeeper Justyna Nowicka said in a press release. "The labor was quick, and the first time mom Maruška knew immediately what to do."
For now, the calf is being kept away from the public, but visitors will have plenty of chances to see her in the future. "She will stay with us for at least two years," said Nowicka. "For now, we have to wait until the calf grows a little and it gets warmer outside."
"Maruška, the first-time mom, behaves wonderfully. She looks after her daughter, allows her to nurse, and is very delicate, despite weighing more than 2 tons," added zoo president Radosław Ratajszczak. "For example, when she lies down, she's very careful not to crush the little one, and even gently moves her aside."
The birth of the baby Indian rhinoceros is the first in the zoo's 155-year history, and is also important for the preservation of the species.
Indian rhinoceros are only kept in 66 zoos around the world, with the entire population consisting of less than 200, according to the zoo. Last year, only 7 babies were born.
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As for why there are so few Indian rhinoceros being born in captivity, the zoo explained that there are several factors at play.
Females don't reach sexual maturity until they're between the ages of 6-8 and their gestation period can last up to 16 months. Usually only one baby rhinoceros is born at a time, and they remain under their mother's care for up to 3 years. Meanwhile, while females live in herds with their offspring, male rhinoceros live alone — and can only mate when it is warm outside.
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After building a special facility in 2014, the zoo initially had two male rhinoceros living there. In 2019, one male left, with a female taking his place. The pair, Manus and Maruška, went on to welcome the female calf in January.
Although once close to extinction due to poaching, since the 1970's the Indian rhinoceros population has been increasing, and its current population is estimated at around 3,600.