Born on an unusually cold night, the calf struggled-he was slow to start nursing and did not establish a strong bond with his mother. When White Oak staff saw he wasn't thriving, they decided to hand rear him. Now, he drinks bottles of a mixture of skim and 1% cow's milk with extra dextrose and vitamins. This formula mimics the very sweet, low-fat milk of rhino mothers. The baby rhino is hand-fed around the clock, every 3-4 hours, at the Zoo.
"We are pleased that Albuquerque can offer a good home to this rhino calf," said Mayor Richard J. Berry. "We know that our Zoo will give him top-notch care, and what a great treat for families to watch this little guy grow up."
"The calf is very playful and rambunctious," said Zoo Manager Lynn Tupa, who traveled with the calf from Florida via Fed-Ex. "He did great during the trip, and we enjoyed getting to know him. He loves his fuzzy blankets, which he rolls around on and drags with him."
The father of the calf is Bully, a male rhino on loan from the BioPark to White Oak Conservation Center. As part of the loan agreement, the calf belongs to the BioPark. White Oak partners with zoos to conserve threatened species through breeding and other programs. While Bully continues romping around in Florida, his new calf will be exploring his new home at the Zoo. The calf's first few months at the BioPark will be spent behind-the-scenes as he gets accustomed to staff and the three adult rhinos Bertha, Lulu and Bernie.
The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) is the third largest land animal, but nearly went extinct in the early 1900s, when hunting reduced the white rhino population to 100 animals. Today, there are more than 20,000 individuals. Conservation efforts, like captive breeding, have been an integral part of this success story. Zoos and other facilities have been able to provide social, open spaces for rhino groups to breed and thrive. Unfortunately, poaching for horns continues to threaten the future of the species.
Although the new calf will not be in the main exhibit for a few months, BioPark Facebook fans can vote on their favorite name for the young rhino. Visit www.facebook.com/abqbiopark for updates and voting. The rhino exhibit is included with regular admission and open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. An announcement will be made when the calf moves into the yard with the other rhinos.