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Rhino Calf Born at Blank Park Zoo

October 24, 2016

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Rhino Calf Born at Blank Park Zoo

DES MOINES, Iowa (Oct. 17, 2016) Officials from Iowa’s Blank Park Zoo announced today that Ayana, a six year-old eastern black rhino, has given birth to an 80 pound female calf.

“This is an extremely significant event – not only in Blank Park Zoo’s 50 year history, but also for this critically endangered animal species,” said Mark Vukovich, Blank Park Zoo CEO.

The birth occurred October 11 at approximately 11:23 a.m. Within the first hour, the calf was standing and walking. By two hours old, the calf was attempting to feed – all positive signs of a healthy baby rhino calf.

Fewer than 1,000 eastern black rhinos remain when you combine wild and captive populations. Only two have been born in the United States this year and a total of seven in zoos worldwide.

"The eastern black rhino is at a 'tipping point' in the wild - meaning that deaths, mostly due to poaching, will soon outnumber births," said Kevin Drees, director of animal care and conservation. “The captive zoo population plays a role in survival of the species, and Blank Park Zoo has partnered with the International Rhino Foundation to secure the species future. This celebrated birth should raise awareness and bring attention to this critical wildlife situation.

A name for the calf has not been announced. Blank Park Zoo will be offering a fund raising opportunity for a chance to name the baby rhino. More information will be released shortly on how to participate.

Zoo officials have stated that the baby rhino will not be viewable on exhibit to allow for mom and baby bonding time. Zoo officials will release pictures, video and live webcams on its Facebook page located at Video recorded of the birth is available on the Zoo’s YouTube channel located at

A pair of rhinos came to Blank Park Zoo in late 2012 as part of the Jamaa Kwa Africa addition to the Zoo.

About Black Rhinoceros (source: International Rhino Foundation,

The black rhinoceros has two horns, with the front one being the larger of the two. They can weigh up to 3,000 pounds and be 5.5 feet tall at shoulder height and up to 12.5 feet long if you include the head and body. The black rhino has a prehensile lip that is well-suited for grasping branches, leaves and shrubs. This is the species’ most distinguishing characteristic. The black rhino lives in Africa, primarily in grasslands, savannahs and tropical bush lands. Female rhinos reach maturity at four to seven years of age while males reach maturity at seven to ten years. The term ‘black rhino’ is believed to come about because of the color of the soil the rhino covers itself with while wallowing in the mud. Unlike the white rhino, black rhinos are only semi-social and do not live in herds. Between 1970 and 1992, the wild population of this species has decreased by 96 percent. Rhinos are poached for their horns which are falsely perceived to have medicinal value in some cultures.

The black rhinoceros has been named one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums 10 SAFE species. Learn more here:

Pictures and Videos, including video of the birth located here:

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