Rare White Rhino Born in a Chilean Zoo

In Santiago, Chile, a significant event has taken place at the Buin Zoo. A 13-year-old white rhinoceros named Hannah gave birth to a male calf, named Silverio, marking a rare zoo birth for the nearly endangered species. This birth is particularly notable as it is only the third time a white rhino has been born in South America.

Silverio was born two weeks ago and underwent 12 days of medical care in confinement before being presented to the public on Tuesday. His birth is being hailed as a significant achievement for conservationists worldwide, as only eight other southern white rhinos have been born over the past year.

The director of Buin Zoo, Ignacio Idalsoaga, explained that a recent string of failed rhino romances had made it difficult for conservationists to breed the species across the continent. However, Hannah and Oliver, a pair of southern white rhinos shipped to Santiago from sub-Saharan Africa over a decade ago, have been successful, producing three calves in this one zoo.

Idalsoaga noted that several zoos in Latin America have failed to reproduce rhinos, but Buin Zoo’s success contributes to a ninth calf for a species with a dwindling population. A team of veterinarians monitoring Silverio declared him healthy on Tuesday.

The success story comes amid concerns for the declining population of white rhinos in the wild. 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, a more common species and the northern’s close cousin, 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 majority of them in zoos.

Despite these numbers, 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 are concerned about the species’ ability to reproduce in captivity, as rhinos have a gestation period of 18 months and often require more than one male to stimulate reproduction.

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