Zoo welcomes baby rhino


Please note that mom and baby will not be on exhibit for the public until after they have had the appropriate amount of time to bond, and weather and temperature conditions are ideal for this African native. Visitors are asked to check the Zoo’s website and social media sites for additional details on when baby will be viewable.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is celebrating some big news! For the first time in over 45 years, a baby black rhinoceros was born in Pittsburgh.

            “We are so excited to welcome a big, beautiful, bouncing, female rhino,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. “The birth of a black rhino is significant because they are critically endangered and Azizi’s calf will introduce new blood lines into the Zoo population.”

Keepers noticed Azizi was acting differently last week. She started pacing and appeared uncomfortable. “At one point she put her feet on her water trough and was stretching,” says Dr. Baker.

“Labor lasted roughly 50 minutes with no complications,” says Dr. Ginger Takle, director of animal health.  “We wanted to be close in case Azizi should need us, but she did very well for a first time mom.” Keepers and Zoo veterinary staff monitored the birth nearby, but out of sight to allow for a natural delivery.

            The female calf weighs about 70 pounds and appears to be doing very well. “The baby was nursing within two hours of her birth,” says Dr. Baker. “Nursing is an important first step in bonding with mom.”

 “We are happy to see how attentive Azizi is with her calf,” says Dr. Takle.  “It is important for the calf to continue to nurse and gain weight especially during the first three months which are a critical time for rhino calves. “

Keepers will continue to monitor the calf to be sure she continues to nurse. Calves gain about 30 pounds each week from the nutrients in the mother’s milk.  “As the calf continues to grow, we will begin to introduce solid food at about one month of age,” says Dr. Takle.  “We start with alfalfa and sweet potatoes.”

The baby is very active. She moves around and even tries to trot in her room to show her independence but as soon as mom is out of her sight, she squeals and mom comes right back.

There are 4,800 black rhinoceroses left in the wild. Between 1970 and 1992, the black rhino population decreased by 96% — the most dramatic of all rhino species. Black rhino populations are recovering slowly despite intensive efforts to end poaching, the biggest threat to animals worldwide.