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Critically endangered black rhino calf makes public debut at Dubbo Zoo

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At just seven weeks old, the black rhino Sabi calf already weighs 112 kilograms, and is just as energetic and full of life as any other newborn baby.

The critically endangered calf made its first public appearance at Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo.

She is the 15th calf born under the zoo’s conservation program and the fourth from mother Bakhita.

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The zoo’s black rhino keeper Hayley Brooks looks after Sabi, who she says is starting to experiment with solid foods.

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“She’s tried the banana, the carrot, the sweet potato, and we find her exploring her surroundings a bit more,” Ms. Brooks said.

“Sabi was very alert in the show paddock and seemed to notice unfamiliar faces, sounds and people when she first stepped out.

“She listened and watched carefully, but took comfort and instruction from her experienced mother.

Conservation effort

With only around 6,000 black rhinos in the wild, Sabi’s birth is a big part of the animal’s protection effort.

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Sabi, a seven week old black rhino, already weighs 112 kilograms. Photo: UKTN Western Plains

“We are the only breeding institution in Australasia for the black rhino breeding program,” Ms. Brooks said.

“Being a female, she will hopefully help to continue this program on her own by having her own calves.

“The gestation period is usually 15 to 16 months, so you have to wait long enough for the calf to be born and they only have one at a time.

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Black rhino keeper Hayley Brooks says Sabi is maturing well. Photo: UKTN Western Plains

“Having successful births is really crucial and Sabi is very exciting.”

Reduce poaching

Ms Brooks said keeping black rhinos in captivity was a great opportunity to help increase numbers of the species.

“It’s definitely a safe place for them,” she said.

“Obviously, conservation on the ground is also a major consideration and here at the zoo we support programs such as anti-poaching patrols and community engagement in Africa and Asia.

Sabi was named after a flower found in Zimbabwe, which blooms after drought.

Sabi with her mother Bakhita during her first public appearance at the Western Plains Zoo. Photo: UKTN Western Plains


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