Rare black rhino born at Michigan Zoo on Christmas Eve

A black rhino born at Potter Park Zoo on Dec. 24, 2019.
A black rhino born at Potter Park Zoo on Dec. 24, 2019.

LANSING, Mich. – A rare black rhino was born at a Michigan Zoo on Christmas Eve.

For the first time in the 100 year history of Potter Park Zoo, located in Lansing, a black rhino calf has been born at the zoo. At 5:40 a.m. Dec. 24, 2019, Doppsee, the zoo’s 12-year old female black rhino gave birth to her very first calf, a male. The animal care and veterinary staff at the zoo report that the calf stood up about an hour and a half after birth and appears to be nursing well.

“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. But so far, the rhino calf appears healthy and we have observed frequent nursing shortly after the birth, which is encouraging,” said Potter Park Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Ronan Eustace.

Black rhinos are critically endangered and are being pushed to the brink of extinction by illegal poaching and loss of habitat. Current estimates show that only about 5,000 individual black rhinos are alive in the wild today.

There are just over 50 black rhinos in the care of AZA accredited zoos which are managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP maintains a genetically healthy population of black rhinos in zoos. The father, Phineus, came to Potter Park Zoo in 2017 from Texas specifically to breed with Doppsee. On average less than two black rhino calves are born in human care each year, making every calf born vital to this endangered population.

“This is a monumental moment for Potter Park Zoo that has taken our staff years of planning and hard work. We are dedicated to conserving rhinos and couldn’t be more excited about this successful black rhino birth,” said Cynthia Wagner, Director of Potter Park Zoo.


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Ken Haddad is the digital content manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter.