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Howletts wild animal park celebrates black rhino birth

By Leo Whitlock

Keepers and staff at a wild animal park are celebrating the birth of a baby black rhino.

The youngster was born on October 16 at Howletts in Littlebourne, near Canterbury, and has been bonding with her mother in her heated stable while keepers monitor her progress.

Animal director Neil Spooner said: "We are absolutely thrilled. She’s delightful and both calf and mum are doing well.

Howletts celebrates the birth of a baby black rhino
Howletts celebrates the birth of a baby black rhino

"This latest arrival signifies real hope for the future of this critically-endangered species.’

The young calf, born to first time mother Salome, has yet to be named but keepers are so pleased with her progress that they have released CCTV footage of her birth and first steps.

The team is confident mum and baby will be ready to explore the outside world very soon.

Head of the hoofstock section Jonathan Usher Smith said: "The footage of the calf taking her first steps is wonderful!

"As you can see, she is a little wobbly but that is to be expected just hours after birth.

"After only a week, she is already getting stronger and more confident – we’ve even seen her copying her mother and trying to eat browse – although she won’t be ready for solid food for quite some time yet."

Listed as critically endangered, black rhino numbers in the wild have been decimated by poachers who sell rhino horn to the Asian market where it is believed to have medicinal properties.

The Aspinall Foundation, a leading conservation charity which operates Howletts and sister park Port Lympne, has been working to protect black rhino since 1971 and has returned black rhino, born at Port Lympne Reserve, to protected areas in Africa, in the hope of saving the species.

This summer two of the returned rhino successfully gave birth in Africa.

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