A white rhino is born in a Chilean zoo, boosting the near-endangered species

In Santiago, Chile, a significant event has taken place at the Buin Zoo. A 13-year-old white rhinoceros named Hannah has given birth to a male calf, named Silverio. This birth marks a rare occurrence, as it is only the third time a white rhino has been born in South America. The arrival of Silverio, two weeks ago, has been celebrated as a “big achievement” for conservationists worldwide, as only eight southern white rhinos have been born over the past year.

Hannah and Oliver, a pair of southern white rhinos shipped to Santiago from sub-Saharan Africa over a decade ago, have been successful in reproduction, producing three calves in this one zoo. The director of Buin Zoo, Ignacio Idalsoaga, stated that several zoos in Latin America have failed to reproduce rhinos, making this ninth calf a valuable contribution to the species.

On Tuesday, Silverio was unveiled to the public after 12 days of medical care in confinement. A team of veterinarians declared him healthy. However, the success story comes amidst concerns for the dwindling population of white rhinos in the African plains. Northern white rhinos are effectively extinct, although efforts are being made to revive the species through assisted reproduction and stem cell research.

Southern white rhinos, the northern’s close cousin and a more common species, have been classified as “nearly endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are just over 10,000 individual southern white rhinos left in the world, the vast majority of them in zoos.

Despite these improvements, the future of white rhinos remains uncertain. Humans continue to hunt rhinos for their horns, killing an estimated 1,000 rhinos a year. Roughly 17 rhinos are born each year. Conservationists fear that these hunting practices and the difficulties in reproducing rhinos in captivity could push the species back towards extinction.

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