Rare baby black rhino makes Lincoln Park Zoo debut

September 17, 2013 3:31:21 PM PDT
His name is King, and at Lincoln Park Zoo, he is royalty.

King is the first baby rhino to be born at Lincoln Park since 1989 and so far, the baby is off to a good start.

The rare birth of a baby black rhinoceros, an animal that's critically endangered in the wild, means this little male's public debut is a big treasure.

"It's gone great. King, our black rhinoceros calf, came out with his mom Kapuki, and we're so thrilled he's exploring his yard with his mom, and what a great start to his life here at the zoo," said Mark Kamhout, curator of mammals.

Kapuki gave birth to her little boy just three weeks ago. But they've been off exhibit until Tuesday so King can learn to be a baby rhino and to nurse up to eight times a day with mom's fattening milk.

"Putting on weight. When he was born he weighed 60 pounds, and now we just got him weighed yesterday and he's 200 pounds," said Kamhout.

It's not easy making baby rhinos in the wild or in zoos because there's a small window of opportunity for mating. But 16 months ago at Lincoln Park Zoo, they had that magic moment. It was that special moment between Maku - he's the father - and Kapuki. They're separated now, but in June of 2012 they had a very brief first date. Fortunately, they got along. But not all mating rhinos do, and that's trouble.

"It's very difficult because you have to separate two 3,000-pound individuals from each other, and if they're fighting, it's not the right time. So the rhinos have to be ready emotionally, too," said Dr. Rachel Santymire, Lincoln Park Zoo.

But mom and dad did get along, and now we have the King. And long live the King.

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