A well-timed delivery caught on film
Zoo Berlin’s female black rhinoceros Maburi became a mother for the third time on 22 September – which just happens to be World Rhino Day! This was also the first time a black rhino birth has ever been caught on camera at Zoo Berlin.
Following a gestation period of 14 months, Maburi (16) finally delivered her little female calf – weighing in at 20 kilos and sporting adorably big ears, but no horns just yet. Rhinoceroses are born without horns to avoid injuring the mother. Not long after her birth, however, two thick patches were already visible on the calf’s nose, and these will eventually develop into horns. A video of the birth can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/4BNGK1HB4cg
The as-yet-unnamed calf is the third offspring born to mother Maburi and father Jasper (27), who are also parents to Kigoma (born 2010) and Hodari (born 2014). Maburi will suckle her baby for about two years until she is old enough to feed exclusively on leaves, twigs and vegetables. Black rhinos reach maturity at around five years of age and usually weigh around 1.3 tonnes when fully grown. As black rhinos are naturally solitary animals, Jasper is not involved in the rearing of the calf. He and Maburi were only put together for the mating season. In March 2018, Jasper was moved to Yorkshire Wildlife Park on the recommendation of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for black rhinoceroses.
“Black rhinos are currently classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ – largely because their impressive horns are coveted hunting trophies,” explains Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem. “We are therefore particularly delighted to be making an important contribution to the preservation of this species with our 20th new calf.” World Rhino Day is intended to draw attention to the serious plight of rhinoceroses. Today, all five rhino species are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Berlin’s zoos have been responsible for managing the international studbook for the black rhinoceros since 1966 on behalf of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). In addition to funding a species conservation project in Kenya, they are also working to protect the rhinos by creating a stable reserve population. And in 2012, female black rhinoceros Zawadi, born at Zoo Berlin, was successfully reintroduced into the wild in the Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, where she gave birth to her first calf in 2016.
Alongside the joy of welcoming this youngest rhino to the zoo family, the timing of the birth provided another reminder of just how closely new life and death are connected: last Thursday, Roberto the jaguar died in the Predator House at the ripe old age of 19.
Maburi and her baby will remain indoors and out of the public eye for the next few days. Zoo visitors can look forward to seeing the little rhino as soon as she is strong enough to follow her mother around on her own four feet –which should be from October, provided the weather is dry.