A rare white rhino has been born at a zoo in Australia, raising hopes that a breeding problem could help safeguard the majestic creature for future generations.
The male calf was born to first-time mother Mopani at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales, on May 14. Staff said that the new addition would be important as poaching is on the rise in his native Africa.
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“Everything is going right — the calf is suckling well — and this is a feat that we managed to care for and nurture her [mother] through her entire pregnancy for a good outcome,” zookeeper Pascale Benoit told the Associated Press.
Although he has yet to be given a name, the zoo’s latest arrival is already a firm favorite with staff and visitors. White rhinos are characterized by a wide mouth used for grazing and are the most social of all rhino species. The vast majority are found in five African countries — South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia and Uganda — where they are hunted for their valuable horns, which are spuriously used in traditional medicine despite lacking any health benefits.
In an effort to reduce the killings, park rangers sometimes briefly tranquilize the animals and remove their horns before illegal poachers have a chance to strike. Once thought to be extinct, white rhinos have now been reclassified from ‘engangered’ to ‘vulnerable’ thanks to the efforts of conservationists.
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