Exciting news! A baby Indian rhino was born at the Wrocław zoo.
For the first time in its 155-year history Zoo Wrocław welcomes a baby Indian rhinoceros.
The female calf born to Maruška and Manas is the hope for the survival of the species, still endangered in nature. She should be available for viewing soon. Meanwhile, the zoo has been posting videos and updates from the baby's first days.
January 6 is a holiday in Poland. It's a day off for many of us. Justyna, one of the keepers, was on the baby watch that day. Around 3:30 pm, she reported to her superiors and the veterinarian that Maruška was about to give birth. And at 5:17 pm the baby was born.
- It was my birthday, and I got the best gift I could ever dream of. The labor was quick, and the first time mom Maruška knew immediately what to do. Visitors cannot see the baby yet, but she will stay with us for at least two years, so there will be plenty of time to visit. For now, we have to wait until the calf grows a little and it gets warmer outside - says Justyna Nowicka, an animal keeper at the Wrocław zoo.
The president of the zoo, Radosław Ratajszczak arrived shortly after the birth.
- Maruška, the first-time mom, behaves wonderfully. She looks after her daughter, allows her to nurse, and is very delicate, despite weighing more than 2 tons. For example, when she lies down, she's very careful not to crush the little one, and even gently moves her aside.
Indian rhinoceros are kept in 66 zoos in the world. The entire zoo population counts 86 females and the same number of males. Last year, only 7 babies were born, so this birth is a very important event for zoos, which are fighting to save the species. Why are there so few rhinoceros born in captivity? The biology of the rhinoceros is the number one reason. Females reach sexual maturity around 6-8 years of age. Gestation lasts up to 16 months, usually only one young is born and it remains under the care of the mother for up to 3 years. Another problem is pairing. Males live alone in nature, while females live in herds with their young. They mate only in heat, and it can be dangerous. You have to be very vigilant when mating rhinos and react immediately in case of problems. The last challenge is cost. Appropriate facilities must be prepared - two outdoor and two indoor enclosures with water and mud pools. Also, a two-ton animal eats quite a lot of food, about 25 kg a day. Despite this, in 2014 Zoo Wrocław built the Terai pavilion with outdoor runs. In the beginning, two boys - Tarun and Manas - lived here. In 2019, Tarun left for Spain, and a female came to Wrocław. In September 2019, the pair were placed together for the first time: 10-year-old male Manas born in the French Parc Zoologique Cerza and 6-year-old female Maruška born in the Czech Plzeň Zoo. The result of this one encounter is the female calf born a few days ago.
- We waited for a long time because pregnancy in this species lasts about 16 months. We are happy because it is the first birth of a rhino in the very long, 155-year history of our zoo. It probably isn't the last one, because our couple is young and they still have many years of life ahead of them. The birth is of great importance for the survival of these unusual animals because in nature they have only one sanctuary-the Kaziranga National Park. Unfortunately, this park, as well as others in that region, is located amidst human civilization-settlements, roads, and farmlands, which negatively impact its functioning. Additionally, the park has recently been struggling with financial problems and an increase in poaching as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, I am asking you to remember about the wild animals that are the silent victims of this pandemic. If you can, support nature conservation programs because they require immediate help. You can do it by visiting our zoo or donating to the Dodo Foundation-says Radosław Ratajszczak, president of ZOO Wrocław.
The zoo in Wrocław has been involved in the protection of Indian rhinoceroses in their natural environment for years. The zoo supported, among others, Kaziranga National Park in India, home to the largest free-living population of this species. The Dodo Foundation supports the nearby Manas National Park.
- We chose Manas National Park for several reasons. It is inhabited by charismatic and very endangered animals, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, and pygmy hogs. The grassland ecosystem is being restored there because only 10% of the Assam plain is wild and inhabited by animals, the rest is being destroyed by humans for farming and housing. Also, a program of restoring the rhinoceros population is being launched in the park, which we want to especially support-says Anna Mękarska, president of the Dodo Foundation.
It is worth mentioning that the father of the youngest resident of the Wrocław zoo owes its name to this park. The word manas can be translated as reason or rational.
If you want to help to protect rhinoceroses choose the SAVING WILDLIFE ticket when you visit ZOO Wrocław or donate to the Dodo Foundation: https://fundacjadodo.pl/projekt/nosorozec-indyjski-manas/.
The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) has only one horn, which can be up to 57 cm long. Poaching rhinos for their horns is driving these species into extinction. According to the so-called Chinese medicine, the rhinoceros horn can heal many diseases and boost male potency. These claims are false because a rhino horn is made of the same substance that forms human nails. The body length of the Indian rhinoceros reaches 3.8 m, the height at the withers is 1.9 m with a bodyweight of up to 3 tons! It lives in the wet, grassy areas of the northern Indian subcontinent. It mainly feeds on grass, leaves, and twigs, but also fruit and aquatic vegetation. Indian rhinoceroses swim very well and enjoy bathing frequently. They can run at speeds of up to 55 km/h. Females may form groups of several individuals together with their young, while males are loners.
Due to poaching, the Indian rhinoceros was close to extinction, in the worst of times, there were only 100 individuals! Thanks to strict protection, carried out since the 1970s, the population is recovering and is currently estimated at 3,600 animals. The largest number of rhinoceros (over 2,500) live in Assam in the Kaziranga National Park. Now, the Manas National Park is launching a conservation project to restore its rhino population.
Since 1995 the park has been running the pygmy hog conservation program. The pigs are bred in a special enclosure and later are released into the natural environment. Now is the time to protect not only one species, but the entire ecosystem. 55 species of mammals, including rhinoceros, elephants, and tigers, as well as 380 species of birds and 50 reptile species live in the Manas National Park.
The park conducts environmental research and works to prevent grass burning and poaching. By exploring the entire ecosystem and protecting all animals in Manas National Park, we will also be able to restore the Indian rhinoceros population there.