Visitors to the Fort Worth Zoo are cooing over the new baby one-horned rhinoceros born there on August 16.
The 110-pound baby was born with wrinkled, armored skin and is “a spunky thing who likes to trot just a little ahead of mother,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ’s Chris Vaughn, who laid out the baby’s backstory:
In May 1990, two young greater one-horned rhinoceroses arrived at the Fort Worth Zoo in handmade wooden crates, a gift from the King of Nepal at the request of the Bass family.
Arun, the male, and Aarati, the female, had been captured in the wild by a Nepali wildlife conservationist who wanted the animals in safety as a hedge against extinction. The zoo tried for years to breed the unrelated pair because of their genetic importance, but for a variety of reasons, it never happened.
Years went by, and Aarati died of medical problems.
The zoo finally got its wish in the spring of 2011. Arun impregnated another female, Shanti, on loan from the San Francisco Zoo. That baby was born Aug. 16 (yes, gestation was 16 months long) and introduced to zoo visitors Thursday, a 110-pound miniature version of her 25-year-old mother and 23-year-old father.
But Arun is not a very involved father. (In his defense, rhinos never are.) “Papa could care less” zoo director Michael Fouraker told Vaughn.
Joy Tipping of the Dallas Morning News gushed over the new arrival: “Personally, I’m enchanted with the little girl’s ears. So perky,” she wrote.
Members of the public can vote on a name for the baby on zoo’s Facebook page through September 20. Voters are given the option of choosing Asha, Baka, Chori, Kumari, or Maja.
Vaughn points out that the Fort Worth Zoo has also bred white rhinos and black rhinos, endangered and critically endangered species respectively. One-horned rhinos, native to India and Nepal, are listed as vulnerable. Only 2,913 individuals remain in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Federation, up from 600 in 1975.