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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : September 2001 : Rare Rhino Born at Cincinnati Zoo

Rare Rhino Born at Cincinnati Zoo

September 17, 2001
Filed at 5:33 p.m. ET

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The first birth of a Sumatran rhinoceros in captivity in 112 years is a landmark development in the effort to save the endangered species, wildlife experts said.

The birth of the healthy male calf Thursday at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden culminated weeks of an anxious vigil by zoo employees and volunteers who watched monitors to collect information about the pregnant mother.

``I believe that the probability of survival of this species has moved from somewhere below 50-50 to significantly above it,'' said Tom Foose, program director of the International Rhino Foundation.

Sumatran rhinos once roamed across much of Southeast Asia, but there are only about 300 left, making them among the world's most endangered mammals.

The mother is 11-year-old Emi, whose previous five pregnancies ended in miscarriages. She and the father rhino, named Ipuh, are the only breeding pair of Sumatran rhinos in the United States.

Once the calf was born, Emi began licking him and soon after, the calf attempted to stand.

Foose called the birth an ``epochal'' event, adding that what has been learned about the rhinos' reproductive cycle from the Cincinnati birth is being put to use elsewhere. The last time a Sumatran rhino was bred and born in captivity was in India in 1889.

Emi and Ipuh are on loan from the Indonesian government as part of a multinational captive breeding program that began in 1984.

The Indonesian government gets the honor of naming the newborn, zoo spokeswoman Barbara Rish said.

The only other adult Sumatran rhino in this country, a female named Rapunzel, is at the Bronx Zoo in New York. She is considered too old for the mating program.

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