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Jun-25-2012 15:53printcommentsVideo

Rare Sumatran Rhino Gives Birth at Indonesian Sanctuary

Birth of Baby Rhino Represents Hope for Species Survival.

Rhino birth
This was the third pregnancy for Ratu, who miscarried her first two calves. The rhino calf weighs 60-70 pounds and looks healthy and active.

(LAMPUNG, Indonesia) - The International Rhino Foundation (IRF) is pleased to announce the birth of a bouncing baby male rhino born to Ratu, a 12-year-old Sumatran rhino living at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park.

The calf was born on June 23 at 12:46 a.m. with no complications, attended by Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary veterinarians, Ratu’s keepers and advisors from the Cincinnati Zoo and Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

The birth helps ensure the future of one of the world’s most endangered species. There are fewer than 200 Sumatran rhinos living in Indonesia and Malaysia. This is the first birth of a Sumatran rhino in an Indonesian facility and the first birth in an Asian facility in 124 years.

“We are overjoyed that Ratu delivered a healthy calf and are cautiously optimistic that the calf will continue to thrive,” said Dr. Susie Ellis, executive director of the International Rhino Foundation.

“The little guy is absolutely adorable, and none of us has been able to stop smiling since the moment we were sure he was alive and healthy. We have been waiting for this moment since the sanctuary was built in 1998. The International Rhino Foundation is honored to play an important role in protecting rhinos. We are hopeful the Sumatran rhino population will thrive once again.”

This was the third pregnancy for Ratu, who miscarried her first two calves. The rhino calf weighs 60-70 pounds and looks healthy and active.

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Dr. Dedi Candra, head veterinarian and animal collections manager at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, has been monitoring Ratu’s pregnancy by weighing her weekly and conducting regular ultrasound exams, using methods developed by the Cincinnati Zoo, where the father, Andalas, was born in 2001.

“We have been waiting for this moment since Ratu wandered from the forest in 2005,” Candra said.

“She gave birth after two hours of second-stage labor and several days of restlessness. The calf stood in about an hour and began nursing almost immediately. Ratu is a very good mother.”

To assist her in having a successful pregnancy, Ratu was prescribed a hormone supplement that was given orally every day.

It was gradually withdrawn as the expected delivery date neared. Dr. Terri Roth, director of Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife and vice president for IRF’s Asia programs, provided the protocol and dosage. Andalas’s mother, who also experienced pregnancy complications prior to his birth in the Cincinnati Zoo, was given the same hormone.

The Sumatran rhino is seriously threatened by the continuing loss of its tropical forest habitat and hunting pressure from poachers, who kill rhinos for their valuable horns. The IRF operates Rhino Protection Units in two of the three remaining habitats to ensure that the wild population and its habitat are protected.

Every successful birth is critical for the survival of the species, which runs the risk of extinction by the end of this century.

To learn more about IRF, visit www.rhinos.org.

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