Rhino calf takes his first steps outside
Our week-old male rhino calf stomps out into the sunshine on his public debut.
The calf, whose birth was captured on CCTV cameras last week, has been named Gabe by our keepers.
The bolshie newcomer stepped into the sunshine alongside mum, Ema Elsa, for the first time since being born.
Eastern black rhinos are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered in the wild, with less than 650 remaining across Africa.
Barbara Dreyer, rhino keeper at the zoo, said:
It’ll take Gabe some time to get used to his surroundings, but he’s already super-feisty and doing all the right things, sleeping lots, eating well and looks very sturdy on his feet - he’s doing really well so far.
We hope Gabe brings a lot of attention to the ever-growing need for the conservation of Eastern black rhino populations in Africa that are being slaughtered daily. The criminal gangs aren’t slowing down and in recent years there’s been a huge surge in illegal poaching, driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asia, as it’s ‘believed’ to have medicinal benefits – although scientific research has already proved it to be completely useless.
For that reason, Gabe is particularly important to the European breeding programme for the species as he will add to the genetic diversity of Eastern black rhinos in zoos across Europe, helping to save the species from extinction in the future.
Gabe is the third baby born at the zoo to 13-year-old mum, Ema Elsa, who was matched up with dad Kifaru, aged 31, by keepers at the zoo. The calf will now stay by her side for up to two years.
Chester Zoo has been successful in breeding a number of critically endangered black rhinos and plays a vital part in the European breeding programme, which is managed by the zoo’s Director General, Mark Pilgrim. Ground-breaking science at the zoo has allowed researchers to monitor hormones levels in their female black rhinos to help discover the best time to introduce them to a potential partner, as well as diagnose pregnancies and estimate when they will give birth.
We are also one of the main organisations fighting for the survival of Eastern black rhino and has long supported conservation efforts in the wild to try and protect black rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries across Africa.
Gabe and his mum Ema Elsa have ventured out for people to see on quite a few occasions since he was born. They have access to a heated indoor area (which is off-show) and a large outdoor paddock (where they can be seen) and it's really up to the rhinos to choose where they want to be and where they want to go. Hopefully you'll get a glimpse but, at the moment, with him being so young and with it being a little cold, it’s not absolutely guaranteed.