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Hamilton Zoo welcomed the birth of a Southern white rhinoceros last week.
The female calf, born on Tuesday, 6 March at 11pm, is the sixth to be born at the facility and the seventh to be bred there as the zoo transported a pregnant rhino to Australia Zoo in August 2010.
The new calf is the second for mother Moesha (18) and the fourth for father Kruger (23), and brings the zoo’s current herd population to seven.
Hamilton Zoo Team Leader of Mammals Samantha Kudeweh, who is also coordinator for the Australasian region’s white rhino breeding programme, said that while the birth of the calf is exciting for Zoo staff and visitors, it is also significant for the species as a whole.
“Zoo populations have an important role to play in the conservation of species such as rhinos,” she said.
“Rhinos bred and housed in zoos, such as this new calf, serve as ambassadors for wild populations and conservation projects, as well as provide genetically sound reserve populations in case of major decline in range states.”
Southern white rhino have been a major success story of wildlife conservation – while their numbers were reduced to less than 100 animals in the early 1900s, conservation efforts have seen the wild population increase to over 20,000 as at the end of 2010.
A recent boom in the black market price for rhino horn has been driven by its perceived value as a traditional Asian medicine remedy and has resulted in a dramatic increase in poaching over the past two years.