#RhinoWatch: Black Rhinoceros Gives Birth At Lincoln Park Zoo

The long-awaited 'big news' has arrived at the zoo.

Shannon Blum
May 21, 2019 - 8:20 am
Lincoln Park Zoo announces birth of black rhinoceros

Lincoln Park Zoo/Facebook


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- It's here! Something big has just arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo.

In March, WBBM Newsradio reported that Lincoln Park Zoo's 13-year-old female eastern black rhinoceros, Kapuki, was pregnant and expected to give birth in May. The pregnancy was a big deal to the zoo, because eastern black rhinoceroses are a critically endangered species. 

“The potential of a successful calf means much more than a cute face at the zoo. A birth represents preservation of a critically endangered species that faces a lot of challenges,” said Curator of Mammals Mike Murray, in a statement in March. “We remain cautiously optimistic that Kapuki, as an experienced dam, will know just what to do.”

And according to the zoo, she did just that!

The zoo announced Sunday on Facebook that Kapuki's water broke and she was going into labor.

About an hour later, the zoo announced the birth.

"After 15 months of pregnancy and a relatively quick labor, we’re excited to announce Kapuki gave birth!" the zoo said on Facebook. "Kapuki’s maternal instincts kicked right in and she has been seen tending to the calf. The next big milestones will be for the calf to stand and begin to nurse. Animal care and the veterinary team continue to monitor via remote camera to give Kapuki and the calf privacy."

On Monday night, the zoo posted the rhino calf was reaching its milestones - the first of which was standing up. According to Lincoln Park Zoo, "the calf stood up last night at only 53 minutes of age."

The next milestone for the calf was nursing.

"The calf continues to surpass milestones as hoped! Animal care is continuing to monitor from afar as Kapuki cares for the calf. Since last night, the calf has been observed nursing several times, a major milestone. The first 48 hours of a calf’s life are critical and we remain cautiously optimistic," the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo has yet to announce the gender and the name of the calf. They plan to share those details as soon as they become available. For now, both Kapuki and her calf will remain behind the scenes and will not be on public display. Animal care staff will continue to montior the mother and baby's progress from remote cameras, as they give the two privacy. 

According to the zoo, the pregnancy is a result of a recommended breeding program from the Eastern Black Rhinoceros Species Survival Plan. After scientific analysis, it was recommended that the zoo’s female rhino, Kapuki, breed with 33-year-old male rhino, Maku.

Kapuki and Maku successfully mated in 2013, which led to the birth of King, which was transferred to Brookfield Zoo in Nov. 2016.

Although guests cannot see the new available just yet, you can stay up-to-date with all the developments of Kapuki and her new calf on Lincoln Park Zoo's FacebookTwitter, and Instagram using the hashtag, #RhinoWatch.

According to the zoo, eastern black rhinos are a critically endangered species due to poaching for their horns which are believed to have medicinal benefits despite being made of keratin – the same material that makes up human hair and nails.