27 January 2015

Fara, who was born on January 31 to mum Kitani, was taken ill yesterday morning. Keeping and veterinary staff were with Fara throughout the day but, despite their best efforts, Fara died yesterday afternoon.

It is too early to establish the cause of Fara’s death and a post-mortem is being carried out.

Eastern black rhino are a critically endangered species which just 650 left in the wild and so the loss of Fara is devastating news for all who have looked after her and Kitani over the last few weeks.

For some years now, ground-breaking science by a team here at the zoo has contributed to our black rhino breeding programme.

Zoo researchers have spent several years carefully monitoring the hormone levels of the zoo’s resident female rhinos in a bid to discover the best time to introduce them to a potential partner and, as such, our breeding programme has been very successful.

Dr Nick Davis, assistant curator of mammals, said: “Fara was the fourth calf born here in the last three years and to date we have had a very successful breeding programme so Fara’s death will be felt deeply by all those who cared for her every day. It is too early for us to speculate to the cause of Fara’s death but everything possible was done to help her yesterday. It is a truly sad time for us all.”

Chester Zoo has a long history of working with black rhinos in the field and remains one of the main organisations supporting conservation efforts in Africa.

The Chester Zoo Black Rhino Programme started in 1999, in partnership with Save the Rhino, providing substantial financial support to Kenya Wildlife Service to enable the translocation of 20 black rhinos to wildlife reserves in the Tsavo region of Kenya.

More recently the zoo also provided support for the rhinos in Chyulu Hills National Park and Laikipia District in Kenya and Mkomazi in Tanzania.

The rhino house will be closed today (4/3/15) to give Kitani some quiet time.