'Miracle' rare rhino calf first to be born at Africa Alive

Africa alive southern white rhino calf born at Lowestoft zoo

The southern white rhino calf is the first to be born at Africa Alive - Credit: Africa Alive

A rare rhino calf hailed as a "little miracle" has been born at a zoo in Suffolk. 

Africa Alive, in Kessingland, had its first ever southern white rhino calf born at the park on Saturday, December 18.

The calf was born to nine-year-old mother Nijiri and 13-year-old father Zima, which have successfully bred as part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) breeding programme.

Africa Alive southern white rhino Lowestoft

Mother and baby are doing well at the Rhino House in Lowestoft's Africa Alive zoo - Credit: Africa Alive

Graeme Williamson, head of living collections at Africa Alive, said: “We are absolutely thrilled about our new arrival at Africa Alive.

"This is the first time white rhinos have ever been bred at Africa Alive, so the birth of this calf truly is a little miracle. Njiri and her baby are doing well, but she is a first-time mum and we are monitoring her closely.

“Pregnant white rhinos will leave their group shortly before the birth and will stay apart for a few days afterward.

"To replicate this natural behaviour, we set up a ‘birthing suite’ for Njiri away from the other rhinos which is monitored closely through CCTV cameras.”

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The southern white rhino was previously hunted to almost extinction with only between 50 and 100 left in the wild in the early 1900s.

Population numbers have now grown to between 17,212 and 18,915 thanks to successful conservation efforts.

The Rhino House is currently closed to allow the calf to bond with its mother but the site will be opened at various times over the coming days to allow visitors to get a glimpse of the newborn.

claudia roberts

Claudia Roberts, CEO of the Zoological Society of East Anglia - Credit: Archant

Claudia Roberts, CEO at the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), added: “This is a very exciting step forward in the conservation of this species and we are over the moon to have our first white rhino calf born at Africa Alive.

“Our commitment to conservation remains at the forefront of everything we do here at ZSEA with many exciting conservation projects happening across both of our zoos, including our most recent partnership with Tusk – a prolific African wildlife conservation charity.”

Africa Alive southern white rhino lowestoft

The number of southern white rhinos in the wild has risen from between 50 and100 in the early 1900s to around 18,915 today thanks to conservation work. - Credit: Africa Alive