LANSING, Mich. (WILX/Gray News) – Potter Park Zoo in central Michigan had its own version of a Christmas miracle this week.
For the first time in its 100-year history, a critically endangered black rhino calf was born at the zoo.
Doppsee, the zoo’s 12-year-old black rhino, gave birth early Tuesday morning, making the young calf a Christmas Eve baby.
“It’s a boy!” said the zoo’s Facebook page.
"As this is Doppsee’s first pregnancy, the animal care and veterinary staff will continue to monitor Doppsee and her calf closely in the next few weeks,” said Potter Park Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Ronan Eustace.
“But so far, the rhino calf appears healthy and we have observed frequent nursing shortly after the birth, which is encouraging,”
The zoo said the mother and calf are "bonding behind the scenes in the rhino barn" and will not be available for viewing by the public until the weather allows for it in the spring of 2020.
Black rhinos are critically endangered.
The zoo says the species is being “pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching and loss of habitat.”
Only about 5,000 individual black rhinos are alive in the world today and just over 50 in captivity, according to the zoo.
"This is a monumental moment for Potter Park Zoo that has taken our staff years of planning and hard work,” said Cynthia Wagner, director of Potter Park Zoo.
“We are dedicated to conserving rhinos and couldn’t be more excited about this successful black rhino birth.”