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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : October 2000 : Just 250 pounds and mom's baby; Endangered black rhino makes public debut at zoo

Just 250 pounds and mom's baby; Endangered black rhino makes public debut at zoo

By Matt Campbell
The Kansas City Star
October 21, 2000

The Kansas City Zoo's baby rhino made her public debut this week to plenty of "oohs" and "ahhs."

The calf of the endangered eastern black rhinoceros - weighing an estimated 65 pounds at birth - already has grown to more than 250 pounds at less than two months old.

The baby, yet unnamed, nibbles at leaves and grain, mimicking mom, but is still dependent on milk.

"She's filled out quite a bit," zookeeper Wendy Shaffstall said Friday. "She's got muscles now. She is bulking up."

Tests by zoo veterinary staff on the baby and the mother, Luyisa, show both are healthy.

The baby's horn started emerging at two weeks and already is about an inch long.

On Friday, the baby scampered about the roomy zoo exhibit, wallowing in mud, nosing at the brush and making high-pitched, nasal vocalizations.

But she never strayed far from mom. One zoo visitor asked why her own children could not be so obedient.

The appearance of a rhino calf also has caught the attention of other animals. Three lions and three cheetahs watched the potential prey with great interest from their respective hillside exhibits.

The Species Survival Plan, a cooperative regime among conservationists, will decide whether the baby rhino remains in Kansas City or is someday sent to another zoo for breeding. Barring that, she will remain in Kansas City, Shaffstall said.

Mother and baby will be on exhibit as long as the temperature stays above 55 degrees and the weather remains relatively dry. The rhinos usually are out from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. But they are not forced onto exhibit if they prefer to stay in their barn.

The calf proved irresistible Friday to Hannah Enenbach, 9, of Kansas City.

"I love her," she said wistfully, peering down from the boardwalk. "I want a baby rhino."



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