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Sumatran rhino gives birth, offering hope for critically endangered species

Sumatran rhino gives birth, offering hope for critically endangered species
Posted at 8:55 AM, Nov 29, 2023

Can you imagine being pregnant for 478 days?

This long gestation period is typical for rhinoceros, with their pregnancies lasting 14 to 16 months. Only elephants have longer gestation periods (two years).

But Delilah, a Sumatran rhino at the Way Kambas National Park, wasn’t the only one celebrating when she delivered her 55-pound baby on Nov. 25.

Conservationists around the globe celebrated the birth of the Sumatran baby rhino. Sumatran rhinos are critically endangered, with fewer than 30-80 left in the wild. The species is extinct in the wild in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, India, Thailand and Vietnam.

His birth was no accident. It resulted from tireless efforts by zoologists, lawmakers and activists, especially those working at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in the park. The International Rhino Foundation established the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in 1996, making it the only place on earth with a reproductively viable Sumatran rhino population.

MORE: Endangered Sumatran orangutan welcomes baby at Sacramento Zoo

rhino and baby rhino partially obscured by bushes
Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia

Sumatran rhinos struggle to breed in captivity. Males and females can be aggressive toward one another when introduced. Females may also develop reproductive issues as a result of what researchers think is fluctuating hormones while cycling regularly but not getting pregnant.

In order to help save the species, Indonesian officials began to create sanctuaries for wild rhinos. They use methods like in-vitro fertilization to help increase their chances of seeing a successful birth.

Mother Delilah was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in 2016. She was mated to Harapan, the last rhino repatriated to Sumatra from the Cincinnati Zoo in 2015.

Eight years later, Delilah and Harapan’s son has been born. The baby boy is now the fifth rhino welcomed by the sanctuary.

In September, a baby girl was born to rhino parents Ratu and Andalas. Ratu is not a first-time mom: In fact, Delilah is her daughter! The 23-year-old rhino has now given birth to three rhinos at the SRS: Andatu (2012), Delilah (2016), and the unnamed girl born in September.

The fifth infant was a girl born to rhinos Andatu and Rose in 2022.

According to a statement from Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry, Delilah gave birth to her son 10 days early. She delivered him during the night on her own, and officials say that both baby and mom are doing well and that the baby is already standing to nurse.


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