Endangered Black Rhino Calf Born at Chicago Zoo Passes ‘Milestone’: Now Nursing

May 23, 2019 Updated: June 2, 2019

Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo gained a new family member on Sunday, and the critically endangered black rhino has one more reason to celebrate.

The rare eastern rhino mom, Kapuki, gave birth to a calf at the Chicago zoo on Sunday after a 15-month pregnancy. Zoo staff proudly posted photos of the calf and its mom on Twitter for the world to see.

“After 15 months of pregnancy and a relatively quick labor, we’re excited to announce Kapuki gave birth!” the zoo tweeted. “Kapuki’s maternal instincts kicked right in and she has been seen tending to the calf.”

Fifty-three minutes after the birth, the baby stood up on its own; and on Monday, the zoo provided further update via Twitter that the calf was nursing, calling it a “milestone,” as newborn calves’ survival is hardly a sure thing.

“The first 48 hours of a calf’s life are critical and we remain cautiously optimistic,” they tweeted out—along with an adorable photo of the pair bonding.

Veterinarian staff are taking care to keep their distance. They monitor the pair with remote cameras so as to give them “privacy,” the zoo said. Nor will they be on display for the public, a zoo spokesperson told CBS Chicago.

“Similarly, the calf is currently unsexed and unnamed but additional details will be shared as they become available,” they added.

Meanwhile, the public can monitor Kapuki and her calf’s progress on their social media accounts and blog along with several hashtags: #lincolnparkzoo #RhinoWatch and #forwildforall.

The birth is a small victory in the black rhino’s struggle to survive. Overhunting reduced their numbers to under 2,500 between the years 1968 and 1995, World Wildlife Foundation reported. That number has more than doubled in the current year, they estimate.

Eastern black rhinos remain on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species, CBS News reports.

A baby endangered Black Rhinoceros stays close to her mother, 6.5-year-old “Circe,” as she makes her public debut on July 19, 2006, at the Metrozoo in Miami, Florida. The 91.6-pound (approx. 42-kilogram) calf was born July 15 after an approximately 15-month gestation period. She is Circe’s first baby. (©Getty Images | Joe Raedle)