6 Jul 2016

Weighty white rhino born in Waikato

1:21 pm on 6 July 2016

A southern white rhinoceros calf has been born at Hamilton Zoo.

The male calf, born in late June after his mother's 16-month pregnancy, brings the number of rhinos at the zoo to six. The zoo announced his arrival today.

The calf joins his mother Kito, father Kruger, and females Imani, Moesha and her daughter Jamila.

Southern white rhino born at Hamilton Zoo in late June 2016.

The southern white rhinoceros calf was born late June at Hamilton Zoo. Photo: Supplied / Hamilton Zoo

"He's a determined little guy, weighing around 63 kilos at birth and already showing his strength," said the zoo's Aaron Gilmore.

The calf is the third for Kito. Ubuntu, born in 2010 was initially born blind, needing help from keepers in his first few weeks until his eyesight cleared, and another female was stillborn in 2013.

Mr Gilmore said the white rhino breeding programme had been very successful with four calves born at Hamilton now at zoos in Auckland and Canberra. Male Kifaru went to The National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra along with Ubuntu, and Auckland Zoo has two the two other males.

The southern white rhino was thought to be extinct but in 1895 a small population of less than 100 was discovered in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Today, about 20,000 animals exist in protected areas and private game reserves.

But in the wild they are classified as near threatened and are still hunted and poached for their horns - believed to have medicinal qualities in some cultures.

Mr Gilmore said the new-born calf was a very important part of the Australasian breeding programme, and may be on view to the public for short periods of time each day over the school holidays "depending on weather and his continued growth".

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