2 Aug 2018

While most rhino births typically happen at night or in the early hours of the morning, Malindi, a 12-year-old Eastern black rhino shocked onlookers when she went into labour at around 12:30 in the middle of a busy summer’s day.

A healthy male calf was delivered safely less than half an hour later in what zoo keepers have described as a “very rare and special event” to witness. The little one was up on his feet within 15 minutes and was seen running around soon after, before returning to cuddle with his mum.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at the zoo, said:

Visitors to the zoo were treated to something incredibly special when Eastern black rhino, Malindi, went in to labour in front of them. With just 650 Eastern black rhino left in the wild, seeing the birth of a new calf and it’s very first steps is a very rare and special event indeed.The newborn was delivered onto soft wood mulch and within next to no time it was up on its feet and running around – it couldn’t have gone any smoother.Although it’s still very early days, the little one is showing great signs by feeding regularly and mum and calf appear to have bonded very quickly. We just hope this new calf helps us to raise some much needed attention to this truly magnificent species, and inspires urgent action to protect their future on this planet. We cannot and must not allow this subspecies to become extinct – a fate which has, tragically, already become of some of its cousins.

Conservationists now fear that less than 650 Eastern black rhino remain across Africa, with the animals listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

With the number being so low in the wild as a result of the illegal wildlife trade, this unexpected arrival offers a significant boost to conservationists in the fight to preserve these amazing species!

Mike Jordan, Collections Director at Chester Zoo, added:

This new arrival is a real boost to a critically endangered species. It increases the number of Eastern black rhino at Chester to 11 and is another vitally important success story in a Europe-wide breeding programme for these highly threatened animals. A thriving, healthy population of this high profile species in good zoos is vitally important to the future of this species and a key component of our mission to prevent their extinction.

In tandem with its acclaimed breeding programme, Chester Zoo is also fighting for the survival of Eastern black rhino in the field and has long supported conservation efforts to protect black rhinos and continues to fund, and provide expertise, to numerous sanctuaries, partners and wildlife reserves in Africa.