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Baby Indian Rhino Born at Toronto Zoo [VIDEO]

Feb 20, 2016 07:40 AM EST
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A male rhinoceros was recently born at the Toronto Zoo in Canada. This marks an important conservation feat, as Indian rhinos (rhinoceros unicornis) are currently listed as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species

This little guy was born to the zoo's 11-year-old female rhino, Ashakiran, on Feb. 17. Indian rhinoceros exists in only a few areas of Nepal and India. It is estimated that some 2,000 Indian rhinos are left in the wild, 70 percent of which are isolated in the Kaziranga National Park. The animals' main threats include habitat degradation, human-rhino conflict and poaching.

The rhinos used to be listed as "endangered" on the IUNC Red List, after being brought to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s. Thanks to conservation efforts and strict protection, it was later down-listed to its current status.

Generally, an Indian rhinoceros' gestation lasts anywhere from 425 to 496 days, which is approximately 16 months. The zoo says Ashakiran carried her baby full-term (16 months) and was moved from public viewing into a maternity area in mid-January.

This is the first surviving calf for the mother rhino -- after giving birth to a stillborn calf in 2011, she had trouble maintaining pregnancy. Her newborn appears to be healthy and feeding well, but its first thirty days will be critical, the zoo said.

The Toronto Zoo worked with the Cincinnati Zoo to give oral progesterone to Ashakiran to ensure her a successful pregnancy. The zoo says the birth of the healthy calf "will strengthen conservation breeding efforts in the future."

Toronto Zoo staff will closely monitor Ashakiran and her calf in the maternity area, which is not viewable to the public. The zoo will announce at a later date when the newborn will make his debut.


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