HAVANA – Cuba’s national zoo has welcomed its first white rhino calf to have been born in captivity in over 15 years.
The zoo announced its delight over the new arrival, which boosts the headcount of one of the world’s most-endangered animals.
“We feel an enormous pride presenting you with the birth of a species that has not happened in over 15 years and which has filled us with joy and emotion,” the institution said on Facebook alongside three photographs of the newborn rhino and its mother.
The youngest member of the zoo’s African enclosure has been named Esperanza Mel.
Esperanza Mel was born at 10.04 pm on 6 September after 18 months of pregnancy and “arduous observation and control work by technicians, doctors and biologists.”
According to the zoo, the baby rhino and its mother are both healthy and Esperanza Mel is breastfeeding with no issues.
The newborn has “very good suction reflexes and when feeling threatened hides behind its mother, who protects her with a lot of love,” the zoo said in a statement, inviting the public to visit the newly-formed family.
Occupying a large plot of land on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba’s National Zoo houses creatures from practically all over the world, among them a collection of 144 animals belonging to 22 species that Cuba received from Namibia.
The white rhino is actually grey in color and has a life expectancy of around 50 years.
The animal can reach a length of 4.2 meters, height of 1.85 meters and weigh up to four and a half tons.
The white rhino is the largest of five rhino species, the fourth-biggest land animal and fourth-heaviest land mammal after the three species of elephants.
The species is in danger of extinction as they are hunted for their horns, believed to possess medicinal properties – something that scientists have dismissed.
Despite a ban, poachers feed an international market, with the main destinations in Asian.