Local news reports of a heartbreak at an Australian zoo as a baby rhino passes away, prompting wildlife experts to undertake a thorough investigation into the cause of this tragic loss.
The Werribee Open Range Zoo in southwest Melbourne has begun an investigation into the unexpected death of a southern white rhinoceros calf, according to a social media post shared on Monday.
Rhino Passes Away Due to Birth Injuries
The newborn rhino, barely a week old, suffered from internal injuries sustained during its birth that tragically led to its passing.
The zoo had confirmed that a five-day-old female calf suffered a neurological episode shortly before midnight on Saturday, which resulted in cardiac arrest.
Zoo's Veterinary Staff Unable to Save Rhino Calf
Despite the best efforts of the zoo's veterinary staff, the calf was unable to be resuscitated and passed away.
Revealing Autopsy Results
The University of Melbourne Veterinary School conducted an animal autopsy, which revealed that the rhino had sustained a broken shoulder blade.
What Caused the Baby Rhino's Injury
According to Dr. Mark Pilgrim, the Director of the Werribee Open Range Zoo, the rhino's injury is believed to be the result of interactions with its mother.
Words of Comfort
"The death of any animal is challenging for all involved," Dr. Mark Pilgrim said. "But we can find comfort in the knowledge that every action was taken to ensure the calf was receiving the best care possible."
Zoo Director Sends Thoughts to Members and Community
He continued, "We know this news will bring sadness to our Zoo Members and community, and our kind thoughts are with them and all who cared for this precious calf, and particularly with our vet and keeping teams who worked tirelessly to care for the calf over the past five days."
Initial Investigation Findings
Initial investigation suggests that the presence of blood clots near the break in the shoulder blade may have played a role in the calf's neurological and cardiac issues.
Continuing the Investigation
The zoo will continue to investigate the cause of the rhino's death in the weeks ahead.
A Momentous Occasion
The birth of the female calf was a significant milestone for the zoo, as she was the first southern white rhino to be born there in a decade.
The young calf was brought into the world as part of the Australasian Rhino Regional Breeding and Conservation Program.
Even though the birth itself was smooth, the zookeepers noticed that the newborn was struggling to thrive and connect with her mother, Kipenzi.
The calf was subsequently transferred to the zoo's veterinary clinic, where she received 24/7 care and was gradually reintroduced to Kipenzi.
Bundle of Joy
According to a statement released on Thursday, Kipenzi, a first-time mother, gave birth to a female calf weighing just over 60 kilograms shortly before 4:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday, following a 16-month pregnancy.
During the calf's five-day life, Director Mark Pilgrim of Werribee Open Range Zoo said that she was given constant colostrum feeds from its mother.
The Southern white rhinos are currently facing a "Near Threatened" status on the IUCN Red List due to their declining population. According to IUCN, there are only 10,080 remaining in the wild, and they are under severe threats like the illegal trade of rhino horn.
The birth of the calf was believed to be a critical breakthrough in the fight to save the species from becoming extinct. "We are excited that visitors will be able to view the pair once we have navigated these typically high-risk early days following the birth," Pilgrim said.
Baby Rhino Didn't Live Long Enough to Have a Name
The newborn calf was also expected to soon have a name as the zoo was going to organize a naming competition through voting the week after its birth.