Critically endangered black rhino born...and it's a boy!

We’re delighted to announce the safe arrival our our rhino calf.

After a 15-month pregnancy, first-time mum Dakima gave birth to a healthy male calf on 16 January – one of only an estimated 40 Eastern black rhino to be born in the UK in the past 20 years.

Baby Eastern black rhino

Critically endangered Eastern black rhino born at Folly Farm

Born just ten minutes after Dakima’s waters broke, the calf made his appearance at 4:37am and within a couple of hours was standing up, following Dakima around the enclosure and suckling from mum.

Eastern black rhinos are classed as critically endangered due to poaching and loss of habitat. There are thought to be fewer than 650 left in the wild and around 87 in zoos across Europe, including our new addition.

Six-year-old eastern black rhino, Dakima, arrived here in May 2017 as part of a breeding programme and met the love of her life, nine-year-old male Nkosi. Mating rhinos can be unpredictable, but their relationship blossomed and she conceived in October 2018.

Black rhino mum and calf

First time mum Dakima has really taken to motherhood and is seen here protecting her precious calf

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome our new arrival – Dakima has taken to motherhood like a duck to water. She’s being very protective of the baby which is great because it shows they have a strong bond. This is the most important baby ever to be born at Folly Farm and is such a monumental event for all the staff here. Not only is this calf helping to increase numbers of a critically endangered species, he’s also the first rhino ever to be born in Wales.” – Tim Morphew, zoo curator

Zoo keepers Jack Gradidge and Rachel Puncher announce the arrival

Along with other zoos across Europe, we’re part of a breeding programme to help increase the numbers of Eastern black rhino in captivity and, ultimately, the wild.

“Most animals give birth at night under the cover of darkness and Dakima was no exception. Our keeper Rachel Puncher found the baby rhino waiting for her in the enclosure on Thursday morning and did a double take before telling the rest of the team the good news. We checked the CCTV to find out the time of birth and exactly how it happened. We then left Dakima alone, giving them both some space to bond with the new arrival – but continued to monitor them on the cameras and did regular spot checks to ensure baby was starting to feed.” – Tim continued

Watch this amazing CCTV footage of the birth and baby’s first steps.

The next steps for our keepers are just to keep an eye on Dakima and make sure the baby stays healthy and gets everything he needs from mum. Our aim is always to interfere as little as possible and let nature take its course. Nkosi will be a bit of an absent father, but that’s perfectly normal as male rhinos don’t have anything to do with their offspring in the wild so it’s unlikely we’ll introduce him to the baby – his job is done.

In the wild rhino calves can stay with their mums for up to four years, after that there’s a possibility this baby could one day be released into the wild to help boost population numbers – or move to another zoo to continue the breeding programme in Europe. It’s exciting to be playing our part in helping to safeguard these amazing animals for future generations.

Rhino mum stands over newborn calf

A monumental birth for Folly Farm and more importantly for this critically endangered species

We believe the calf weighs between a healthy 30-45 kg. Our keepers will monitor mum and baby closely over the coming weeks in our off-display area. We’d really appreciate your patience during this important bonding time for Dakima and her son. When we’re satisfied they’re ready they’ll be back on public display, the welfare of our animals always comes first.

We know how excited you’ll all be by this amazing news so make sure you follow us for plenty of baby updates!

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Zoo Membership

We're proud to be members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Our membership means we share knowledge with leading zoos across the UK and Europe, and we learn from them too.