In the early hours of Monday morning a White Rhino calf was born at?Cotswold Wildlife Park, a first in the Park's forty-three year history.
The as-yet-unnamed baby was born to first time parents, Nancy and Monty, on 1st July 2013.? The baby remains very close to its mother and both are in good health.
Cotswold Wildlife Park curator, Jamie Craig, commented: ?It is very early days and Nancy is?a first time mum. We all have our fingers crossed as calves can be very vulnerable for a while after birth.?
Both Monty and Nancy are seven years old. In 2009, Nancy (along with another female called Ruby) made the eleven thousand kilometre journey from Mafunyane Game Farm in South Africa to the UK to join young male Monty at their new Oxfordshire home. It was hoped that, one day, they would successfully breed the Park's first ever Rhino calf.
Females only reproduce every two-and-a-half to five years, so the window of opportunity for successful reproduction is limited. Unbelievably, these iconic animals were once the rarest subspecies of any Rhino and were on the verge of extinction in the early 1900s, when it was believed only twenty to fifty animals remained in their native African homeland. Thanks to excellent and sustained protection, they are now the most common of the five Rhino subspecies, although poaching in the last three years has once again escalated to serious levels, driven by demand for rhino horn from the traditional medicine market of China and the Far East.
Visitors can see the new calf daily from 10am to 6pm (last entry at 4.30pm) in the large paddock they share with a herd of Chapman?s Zebras overlooking the Manor House or in their solar powered Rhino House.
Nancy was named after Prime Minister and local MP David Cameron?s daughter. Mr Cameron opened the Park?s new railway extension in 2007 and still visits the wildlife park with his family.
White Rhinos are the largest of the Rhino species and range throughout the grassland of Southern Africa.
The name ?rhinoceros? translates directly from Greek as ?nose-horn?.
Beloved White Rhino ?Bull? (pictured right with Managing Director of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Reggie Heyworth) was one of the first large mammals in the collection. He arrived from Africa in 1972 and lived to the age of 42.
The Northern White Rhino is listed as Critically Endangered and is on the brink of extinction in the wild. The West African Black Rhino is feared extinct; poaching for Rhino horn is the main cause of their demise.
For more information on Cotswold Wildlife Park and what they offer for school trips please visit their main page here