Zoo Miami is celebrating not one but two major milestones this week: the birth of a Greater One Horned Indian Rhinoceros baby — and the first such birth via artificial insemination.
The little one arrived at 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, to mom Akuti, 7, and dad Suru, 18, following a 15-month pregnancy. It is just the second successful birth of this rare species at the Florida facility, and the first in recorded history to be the result of induced ovulation and artificial insemination.
Though Akuti and Suru made several attempts to breed naturally, they didn’t have success, so a special team from the South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation (SEZARC), aided by Dr. Monica Stoops of the Cincinnati Zoo, artificially collected semen from Suru and then artificially inseminated Akuti in early 2018. Knowing the date of conception, zoo staff was able to accurately and carefully track the pregnancy and aid in prenatal care.
Zoo staff has not yet examined the newborn; according to a release, caretakers are waiting until they can safely separate the infant from its “very protective mother,” as the bonding process can be a challenge for first-time moms. Once mom and baby are in the clear, though, they’ll go on display for the public.
Yesterday, after an over 15 month pregnancy, “Akuti,” a 7 year old Greater One Horned Indian Rhinoceros, gave birth at approximately 12:30am! This is only the second successful birth of this very rare species in the zoo’s history.— Zoo Miami (@zoomiami) April 24, 2019
Video: Ron @RonMagill pic.twitter.com/jc833YgzvU
According to Zoo Miami, there are less than 3,000 Indian rhinos left in the wild, and the numbers are decreasing due to poaching — the animals’ horns are used for medicine and as dagger handles. Zoo staff hopes this recent birth is a step in maintaining “a healthy population under human care of this highly vulnerable species.”