The Oklahoma City Zoo celebrated the birth of a boy rhino, Saturday evening.
The zoo's 7-year-old female, greater one-horned Indian rhinoceros, Niki, gave birth at 5:20 p.m. Saturday. The new baby rhino is the fourth Indian rhino born at the zoo since the species was added in 1981.
The gestation period for Indian rhinos is approximately 16 months, and the average birth weight for an Indian rhino calf is 120 pounds. Newborn Indian rhinos lack the distinctive horn of the adult rhino. Instead, they have a flat, smooth oval plate that eventually forms into a horn.
The zoo says both the mother and baby are doing well and are experiencing an important bonding phase.
"The first few days after birth are most important," said Laura Bottaro, Zoo curator. "During this time, the calf begins to nurse regularly and the mother learns how to nurture her calf. Zoo staff is monitoring the pair around the clock and the Pachyderm building may be closed for a few days to allow some quiet time."
Zoo guests may or may not be able to see Niki and her calf over the next few days. This will be determined by the comfort level of the animals and their behavior.
Native to northeast India and Nepal, the Indian rhinoceros is an endangered species due to habitat loss and poachers who sell the rhino's horn for medicinal use in Asia and for dagger handles in the Middle East. Approximately 2,400 Indian rhinos are left in the world.
Because only five species of rhinos exist today and extinction is a real possibility, the Zoo supports rhino conservation and hosts its annual Bowling For Rhinos fundraiser. This year's event will be at 7 p.m. on July 19 at Heritage Lanes in Oklahoma City. All proceeds benefits rhino conservation projects in Asia and Africa.