Meet Azizi, the Zoo's Black Rhino Baby
Born August 31, 2000
After a 15-month gestation
period, Inge (pronounced Ing' ah), Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's 7-year
old African black rhinoceros (Diceros biocornis michaeli), delivered
a female calf at 5:57 p.m. on Thursday, August 31, 2000. The baby,
Azizi, is growing rapidly from her birth weight of approximately
80 pounds to 1500 pounds at 16 months of age. Inge arrived at Cleveland
Metroparks Zoo in 1997 from South Africa. Her transfer was the result
of a cooperative effort between Addo Elephant National Park in South
Africa, the International Rhino Foundation and the Association
of Zoos & Aquariums. The reason for the transfer: to introduce
Inge to the Zoo's male black rhino, Spike. After the carefully planned
introduction, which included close monitoring of behaviors and hormone
levels, Inge's pregnancy was confirmed in the spring of 1999.
Black rhinos are a highly
endangered species due primarily to illegal hunting. In 1970, the
world population of black rhinos was 65,000. By 1980, this number
dropped to 15,000, and today, it is thought that less than 3,000
black rhinos remain.
- Sex: Male
- Birthdate: August 5, 1992 at Cincinnati Zoo
- Arrived at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo August 19, 1994
- Sex: Female
- Birthdate: Wild born in 1993 at Addo National Elephant Park in South Africa
- Arrived at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo July 2, 1997
Could a pair of black
rhinos, Inge (pronounced ing-ah) and Spike, provide offspring to
help save this critically endangered species from extinction? Here's
Spike arrived at Cleveland
Metroparks Zoo in August, 1994 but finding a mate for him involved
much more than placing an ad in the personals. After months of discussion
with the South African government and with the American Association
of Zoos and Aquariums, arrangements were made to acquire a female
black rhino. Inge arrived in Cleveland by truck transport from New
York City in a specially designed transfer crate. Prior to her arrival
in New York, she flew from Johannesburg, South Africa to Amsterdam,
then Amsterdam to JFK Airport in New York.
In preparation for the
transfer, Alan Sironen, the Zoo's curator of mammals, and Dr. Tony
Lesh, the Zoo's consulting veterinarian, travelled to South Africa
to become acquainted with Inge. They, along with Dr. Peter Morkel,
chief veterinarian at the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa
accompanied Inge during the entire transfer. She arrived at Cleveland
Metroparks Zoo on July 2, 1997 and was placed in an enclosure next
to Spike's. The two rhinos could see each other and Spike had occasional
access to Inge's indoor enclosure during the time she was outdoors
but the two were kept separated.
Preparing Inge to meet
and mate with Spike was carefully planned but it was a long, slow
process. First, animal keepers worked on behavioral training so
Inge would cooperate with daily blood draws. The blood was analyzed
for the hormone, progesterone, allowing Zoo staff to predict her
reproductive cycle. Records were also kept on both rhino's behaviors
so physiological data, such as hormone levels, could be correlated
with behavioral cues.
Inge did not have predictable
cycles until 1999, perhaps because of her young age or change of
environment following her transfer. However, by spring of 1999,
Zoo staff could pinpoint receptive times. Inge and Spike were finally
introduced resulting in two breeding episodes, one month apart.
Inge's hormone levels
continued to be analyzed, confirming her pregnancy. The gestation
period for black rhinos is 438 to 552 days - a rather wide range
between 14 and 17 months. Inge's delivery date could occur from
July 17 until November 30. Her calf could weigh from 70 to more
than 100 pounds at birth. In the wild, young rhinos gain weight
at the rate of 80 pounds per month and spend the first three years
with their mother.
Azizi Photo Gallery
|Inge's baby, Azizi (photo by Casey Batule)
| September 1, 2000, 14 hours old (photo by Casey Batule)
|November 28, 2000:
3 months old, 300 pounds!
|February 13, 2001:
|Which one's Azizi?
At 1000 pounds in June, 2001, she's following mom, Inge.