Toronto Zoo Welcomes A Baby Rhino That’s So Cute You Will Be Wanting One Of Your Own
It’s a happy new year at the Toronto Zoo, which welcomed its first newborn animal of 2018 back on Jan. 4.
A greater one-horned rhinoceros calf joined the herd of more than 5,000 animals that call the premier Canadian zoo home. 13-year-old rhino Ashakiran gave birth to a male calf following a 16-month pregnancy. The calf, whose name has not been released, is the fifth greater one-horned rhino born in the zoo’s history.
Ashakiran gave birth to another calf in February 2016, while a white rhino was born at the zoo last December.
Greater one-horned rhinos, also known as Indian rhinos, nearly went extinct in the early 1900s as they were hunted for sport or killed as pests. Thanks to conservation and protection efforts, their numbers have increased, but habitat degradation and poaching are still very real threats. There are about 3,500 of these rhinos left in the wild, where they live in northeastern India and the Terai grasslands of Nepal.
The species is getting attention not only for the New Year birth, but also the calf’s delighted reaction to a shower. Toronto Zoo staff shared a video of the ten-day-old calf enjoying a shower for the first time, writing:
“The calf was exposed to water for the first time on January 8th, but being only four days old, he was not too sure of it and was startled when splashed by mom, who was happily enjoying her shower. Today is the first time we see him frolicking, jumping, rolling on his side and tummy, and thoroughly enjoying himself under the water spray.”
Time for a #BabyRhinoDiaries update for our greater one-horned rhino calf! 🦏Day 11, Jan 14th – The calf was exposed to water for the first time on January 8th, but being only four days old, he was not too sure of it and was startled when splashed by mom, who was happily enjoying her shower. Today is the first time we see him frolicking, jumping, rolling on his side and tummy, and thoroughly enjoying himself under the water spray (see below)! Day 12, Jan 15th – Enrichment plays a big part in the lives of all of the animals at the Zoo, and rhinos are no exception. One of Ashakiran's favourite enrichment is big, heavy chains that are hung in the maternity area from the ceiling. Ashakrian is very tactile (most rhinos are) and she loves scratches, so she really enjoys walking through the chain curtain Keepers have hung and the sensation of the chains rubbing her back. Today, keepers noticed that the calf was trying to reach up to touch them for himself! Rhino see, rhino do! Day 13, Jan 16th – The calf was confidently wandering from mom throughout today so we took the opportunity to weigh him for the first time. He bravely left mom in the maternity den and ventured into the holding beside it, where his keepers were waiting to coax him onto the scale. It did not take too much coaxing as he is learning that receiving rubs from the keepers is a wonderful thing. He is very curious and becoming quite adventurous. He now weighs 85.1 kg! Day 14, Jan 17th – Today was a quiet day. Keepers noticed lots of nursing. Our rhino calf will often wIggle his tail back and forth a few times when he is nursing – it is super cute!Day 15, Jan 18th – Ashakiran and her calf are becoming quite comfortable in their habitat space where visitors would normally view them (currently still closed to the public). Keepers are now preparing for step two: seeing new people. In preparation for Zoo visitors to see him in the future, Keepers from other areas of the Zoo were invited to come and see the calf for a short period of time. One of the steps in preparing this calf to see the public is to expose him to new and different noises and voices coming from the visitor side of the building. He responded to the first visit from other Keepers very well! Again, please note, the building is still closed to the public at this time.Day 16, Jan 19th – Lots of exploring done today! The calf was quite curious about a carrot that fell from mom's mouth and he spent a few minutes sniffing and discovering that. His confidence continues to grow when it comes to interacting with his Keepers. He enjoys playing, and today, scratched himself on more areas of his body than just his head. He continues to enjoy his shower time with his mom, Asha. Please note the Greater One-Horned Rhino House is closed to the public at this time. #TwoTinyRhinos
Posted by The Toronto Zoo on Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Zoo staff also wrote about the calf learning from his mother on Jan. 15, at 11 days old.
“One of Ashakiran’s favourite enrichment is big, heavy chains that are hung in the maternity area from the ceiling. Ashakrian is very tactile (most rhinos are) and she loves scratches, so she really enjoys walking through the chain curtain Keepers have hung and the sensation of the chains rubbing her back. Today, keepers noticed that the calf was trying to reach up to touch them for himself! Rhino see, rhino do!”
According to the zoo, the curious calf has been bravely wandering away from his mother, even venturing onto the scale. Twelve days after his birth, he weighed in at 85.1 kg (187. 6 pounds). By Jan. 25, he was up to 132.6 kg (292.3 pounds). “When he goes on the scale he gets lots of scratches for positive reinforcement training and being the smart boy that he is, he has figured this out and often goes back on the scale after his weight has already been recorded,” Zoo staff posted on Facebook. “Keepers have discovered that by scratching his chest he will sit, and by scratching his belly he will lie down.”
Zookeepers anticipate the energetic calf will begin to eat leaves within a few weeks. While he is not yet on display, his zoo adventures are documented online as part of the Baby Rhino Diaries.