Andazi the eastern black rhinoceros is expecting
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Birth expected in August or September would be a first for Zoo Atlanta
ATLANTA – January 16, 2013 – Andazi, a 6-year-old eastern black rhinoceros, is expecting her first calf. The new arrival would be the first black rhino calf ever born at Zoo Atlanta.
Andazi and 8-year-old male Utenzi mated for the first time on May 22, 2012. This will be the first calf for both of them. The pregnancy was detected using fecal hormone assays run at Saint Louis Zoo. Rhino gestation is 15 months; based on the date the Zoo’s rhinos mated, a calf would be expected in August or September 2013.
“We’re thrilled about Andazi’s pregnancy, but we remain cautiously optimistic at this point. It’s still early and the pregnancy could be lost,” said Rebecca Snyder, PhD, Curator of Mammals. “Regardless, the fact that Andazi and Utenzi mated is very encouraging and exciting.”
Rhino calves weigh 50 to 90 pounds at birth and are born without horns. Rhinos are solitary in the wild, coming together only during breeding, so Utenzi will not be housed with his new son or daughter.
Eastern black rhinos are a species in dire need of targeted conservation efforts. Hunted almost to extinction in the 1980s, their populations have experienced near-catastrophic decline in recent decades, largely as a result of poaching for their horns, skin and bodily fluids, which are believed by some cultures to have curative properties. Conservation programs and stringent patrolling of rhino habitat have helped populations increase to around 4,800 hundred in the wild, but the species remains critically endangered. The eastern black rhino’s relative, the western black rhino, was declared extinct in 2011.
“This is a species that sends a very urgent conservation message. Not only will this calf be a new addition to the captive population, but it will also help us to educate and motivate our visitors to understand the very real implications of not taking action to protect rhinos in the wild,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “A rhino calf would be a very exciting first for us at the Zoo, and we’re overjoyed about the idea of introducing our Members and guests to the joy of watching a rhino calf grow up.”
Stay tuned for updates on Andazi’s pregnancy.