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Baby rhino fever! Here's how the Potter Park Zoo is caring for the calf

Posted at 7:41 PM, Dec 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 05:03:57-05

LANSING, Mich. — It's a boy at the Potter Park Zoo!

The zoo welcomed a critically endangered baby black rhino at 5:40 a.m. on Dec. 24, marking the first in its 100-year history.

The zoo says they're excited, just like mom.

"It's very, very satisfying. It's a culmination of a lot of hard work over many, many years," Animal Care Supervisor Pat Fountain said.

Multiple keepers, vets, and zoo workers were there as Doppsee the rhino gave birth to the calf after a 16-month pregnancy. Soon after he was born, mom was eager to share him with her zoo family.

"She shared her baby with us right away which was a really special moment," Fountain said. "We weren't sure how she would do, a lot of times moms can be defensive, but she didn't mind at all."

Fountain, who has taken care of the rare black rhino since she got to the zoo in 2011, was there through her 16-month pregnancy, ultrasounds and all. He said the baby rhino is important not only for the zoo, but also the world's black rhino population.

"There's less than 5,000 left in the wild. In the US, in all the AZA Zoos, there were 53 black rhinos before our birth. Our little man makes 54 in the population, which is a really good thing," Fountain explained.

The baby rhino, who hasn't been named yet, was nursing and walking shortly after birth. There might be more rhinos in the future there, once genetics are looked at by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. Right now, both mom and baby are doing well and will continue to be monitored as he grows.

"Baby will stay with mom for two to four years, depending on how soon we're going to breed mom (and) dad again...hopefully down the line, mom has more babies," Fountain added.

If you're wanting to see the baby rhino, you're going to have to wait. He won't be visible to the public until springtime. But the zoo said they will post plenty of pictures.

The Potter Park Zoo says rhinos are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching and loss of habitat. They hope people who come to the zoo learn about not only what's going on there--but also around the world.

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