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Video: Baby rhino at Howletts in Canterbury makes first public appearance

An adorable baby rhino has made his first public appearance under the watchful gaze of his proud mother.

The calf, born on October 1, is the first to be born at Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury in its 40 year history.

Park staff today celebrated as the youngster took his first tentative steps out with mum Damara escorting him.

Rhino calf at Howletts
Rhino calf at Howletts

Neil Spooner, the Littlebourne attraction's Animal Director said: "We are absolutely delighted.

"This rhino calf is particularly significant for Howletts, because he’s the first to be born here at Howletts in our 40 year history.

"More importantly, his arrival means hope for the future of this critically endangered species. The birth went very well for both mum and her calf."

Keepers have reported that the inquisitive rhino is already starting to explore.

But his mother is being very cautious and encourages the youngster back to the safety of the rhino house after short periods of time.

Helen Rhodes, Hoofstock Keeper, said: "We’ve been letting Damara and her baby out very early in the morning, before the park opens to the public, for the last few days.

"This is Damara’s first calf and she has a typical black rhino temperament, which means she is extremely protective, so we wanted to take things slowly and calmly, before formally introducing the little one to the general public."

Pictures taken of the early outings show the youngster playing, bouncing and charging as he attempts to keep up with his mother, before venturing back into his indoor enclosure for a nap and feed.

Ms Rhodes said: "It’s wonderful to see him exploring his surroundings. He’s certainly full of beans and loves charging around, although he doesn’t leave mum’s side for long.

"It’s been a long wait but I’m delighted that he’s finally here. It’s fingers crossed for fine weather over the half term period, so that visitors will be able to see the calf during the school holiday."

Listed as Critically Endangered, black rhino numbers in the wild have been decimated by poachers.

The animals are killed for their horns which are sold to the Asian market, where they are believed to have medicinal properties.

The Aspinall Foundation, a leading conservation charity, working with Howletts and sister park Port Lympne has been working to protect black rhino since 1971.

It has a track record of returning black rhino, born at Port Lympne Reserve, to protected areas in Africa, in the hope of saving the species.

Howletts latest arrival, firmly cements the conservation charity’s reputation as being the most successful breeders of black rhino in the UK, with a staggering total of 35 births to date.

For further information, including opening times, entry prices and special events, please visit www.aspinallfoundation.org/howletts

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