This is the moment a critically-endangered eastern black rhino gives birth to a cute calf moments before it takes its first tentative steps at Chester Zoo.
The eastern black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) mother, named Ema Elsa, gave birth to a female calf after 15 months of pregnancy, according to Chester Zoo in the English county of Cheshire.
The birth was filmed by the zoo’s CCTV cameras and the footage shows the calf suckling from its mother a few minutes after entering the world.
Zoo workers said the calf’s arrival will be celebrated around the world as fewer than 1,000 eastern black rhinoceroses are alive today.
The Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorises the eastern black rhinoceros as ‘critically endangered’.
In nature, they are only found in Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
Several rhinos have now been born as a result of a coordinated breeding programme between European zoos before being transported to national parks in Africa to bolster their numbers.
Chester Zoo rhino expert Andrew McKenzie said: “The birth of a critically endangered eastern black rhino is always very special. And to be able to watch on camera as a calf is born is an incredible privilege.
“Seeing the little one then get to her feet with a gentle nudge from mum; take her first tentative steps, and suckle for the first time is then the icing on the cake. It really is heart-warming stuff.
“The whole team here is overjoyed. Mum and calf have bonded wonderfully and have been showing us all of the right signs.
“These rhinos have been pushed to the very edge of existence and every single addition to the European endangered species breeding programme is celebrated globally.
“It’s sadly no exaggeration to say that it’s entirely possible that we could lose them forever within our lifetime and the world’s most progressive zoos are very much part of the fight to prevent their extinction.”
Due to the Asian medicine market, rhinos are poached for their horns and the illegal GBP-multi-billion wildlife trade is driving them to extinction.
McKenzie said: “In the short term, Ema Elsa and her new baby will help to highlight the perilous position that this species is in and we hope they encourage more people to join the fight to prevent the extinction of these gentle giants.
“In the future, as we work to ensure more safe areas, we hope Ema Elsa and her offspring, like others before them born into the European breeding programme, are one day able to make the journey back to Africa.”
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