DE
09.09.15

Newborn baby rhinoceros explores enclosure at Hellabrunn Zoo

World first at Hellabrunn Zoo: On 9 September, the recently born rhinoceros baby was finally presented to the public, offering visitors an opportunity to see the only Indian rhinoceros born in a zoo in 2015 worldwide. Mama rhino Rapti and her calf can now be seen in the Rhino House and its outdoor enclosure.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

He is one of the last of his species, but fortunately the little rhino bull is not aware of how important he is. He runs and romps in his enclosure full of energy, enjoying the sun and from time to time giving mama Rapti several nudges and prods as a way of pestering her to come and play. As with most baby rhinoceros, this storm and stress phase is usually followed by moments of calm, when the little rhino lies down for a rest. 

The yet to be named young bull was born at Hellabrunn Zoo on 31.8.2015 at 9:01 am. Since then, his mother Rapti has been looking after him with patience and care. He regularly drinks from her and receives a lot of body contact. He has not yet met his father Niko, who also lives at Hellabrunn. 

Three days after the birth, the baby rhino suddenly appeared to be in a weakened state. As a result, a decision was taken at short notice by the zoo's veterinarians, curators and management to keep the mother and child behind the scenes for a little longer and initiate intensive treatment. He was monitored around the clock by the keepers and examined and treated several times daily by the vets. The newborn calf was quickly back on his feet and was eventually given the all-clear this weekend. The infection discovered was probably caused by the calf's residual of the umbilical cord accidentally torn by Rapti.

Zoo visitors are invited to submit suggestions for names for the newborn calf. The only condition is the name must begin with the letter "P", since all animals born at Hellabrunn in 2015 are given names with that letter. In addition, the zoo is looking for a name that makes reference to Rapti's country of origin Nepal. The names will be submitted to the editorial staff of the newspaper Münchner Merkur, who will then ask their readers to vote.  

There are currently just under 3,000 Indian rhinoceroses left on the planet, of which just over 200 live in zoos. "The rhino bull is of great importance for the global conservation breeding programme," says Hellabrunn zoo director Rasem Baban, underlining the importance of breeding for conservation. "Hopefully he will bear many offspring."

In addition to habitat loss, the rhino population has been brought to close extinction by hunting, primarily for their horn. The rhino horn - in the powdered form - is highly valued in traditional Asian medicine, even though it has no proven medical benefit, since the horn mostly consists of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair. The threat makes conservation breeding in zoos all the more important. There are only five zoos in Germany that keep Indian rhinoceroses. Rapti, who was born in Nepal, is therefore particularly important for the gene pool of Indian rhinoceroses living in zoos. Her genes have now been successfully passed on to the newborn bull.

About the Indian rhinoceroses at Hellabrunn Zoo
Niko and Rapti, the parents of the Indian rhino baby, have known each other since 1990. In August 1989, Rapti travelled from her native Nepal to Munich. Niko (born on 27.11.1988) arrived at Hellabrunn shortly after from Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart.

The yet to be named male calf was born at Hellabrunn Zoo on 31.8.2015 at 9:01 am. 

General information about Indian Rhinoceros
With a shoulder height of up to 185 cm and weighing more than 2,000 kg, the Indian rhinoceros is the largest of the three species of Asian rhinoceroses. Unlike its two African relatives and the Sumatran rhinoceros, it has only one nasal horn (similar to the Javan rhinoceros), which can grow up to 20 cm. Indian rhinoceroses tend to rub their horn on the ground or on rocks, often resulting in the horn being worn down to a thick knob.

Today the natural habitat of the Indian Rhinoceros is confined to a few areas in Bhutan, southern Nepal, the Terai Arc Landscape and seven refuges in the two Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. Approximately 2,750 rhinos live in the wild. In addition to habitat loss, the rhino population has been brought to close extinction by hunting. The rhino horn is a valuable commodity - the powdered form is highly valued in traditional Asian medicine, even though it has no proven medical benefit. The horn mostly consists of keratin, which is also found in human fingernails and hair.