By MATT CAMPBELL
THE KANSAS CITY STAR
August 27, 2000
- A 65-pound bundle of baby rhinoceros arrived early Saturday at
the Kansas City Zoo.
The female calf was born at 4:40 a.m., and within 50 minutes she
was nursing and making high-pitched yeeps. Both baby and mother
appeared healthy, zoo officials said.
"She follows mom around, and mom adjusts her height to allow
the baby to nurse," said Conrad Schmitt, zoo curator. "She's
doing exactly what we would want her to do."
The birth is of international significance because this subspecies,
called the eastern black rhinoceros, is critically endangered. The
main threats are poaching and loss of habitat. The International
Rhino Foundation estimates there are just 660 eastern black rhinos
left on the planet.
Now there are 661.
"These are the things that zoos need to be doing," Schmitt
Conservation officials are especially pleased that this baby is
female. In recent years, births among captive eastern black rhinos
have been disproportionately male.
The captive population needed new blood to enlarge the gene pool,
so the Kansas City Zoo forged a relationship with the South African
National Parks Board to collect animals from the wild.
The rhino mother, named Luyisa, was brought here from Addo Elephant
National Park in 1997. The Kansas City Star went along to document
The sire, named Rudy, was born in captivity.
Zookeepers had developed a trusting relationship with Luyisa, who
allowed veterinarian Kirk Suedmeyer to take regular ultrasound readings
of the fetus.
Zookeeper Wendy Shaffstall had been on a 24-hour watch with the
rhino when the baby came. She immediately called Suedmeyer and Schmitt.
Mark Wourms, zoo director, left early Saturday for Africa and was
unaware of the birth.
Luyisa was the second female imported from the wild by Kansas City.
The first one died last year of a blood ailment. She also had been
At the same time Luyisa was brought here, the Cleveland Metroparks
Zoo also imported a female rhino.
That animal is pregnant and due to give birth this fall, said Denise
Rendina, Kansas City Zoo spokeswoman.
At the time they were in Africa, Schmitt and Cleveland mammal curator
Alan Sironen made a bet over who would produce a baby rhino first.
Kansas City's baby is scheduled eventually to be transferred to
the Cincinnati zoo, which is developing a rhino program. The move
will not be made for a few years, however, because young rhinos
have a long nurturing period with their mothers.
The gestation of this baby rhino, which is as yet unnamed, was
about 16 months.
Seeing the newborn
It was unclear when the baby rhino would be on public display,
but KMBC-TV, Channel 9, has two cameras installed in the rhino barn.
Visitors can view still photos, which are refreshed every five minutes,
by logging on to www.thekansascitychannel.com/news/rhinocam
- To reach Matt Campbell call (816) 234-4905 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
@ART CAPTION:Luyisa, an eastern black rhinoceros, watched over
her newborn calf Saturday at the Kansas City Zoo. The calf weighed
65 pounds at birth. @ART:Photo (color)