6th White rhino calf born at Colchester Zoo!

Following the announcement in February that our female calf Astrid was expecting, we are excited to announce that she has given birth to a healthy male calf on the 14th October at around 9.45pm!

The new arrival was born after the zoo had closed to the public in the late evening. The Animal Care Team had been viewing Astrid’s behaviour out of hours on a camera system for 2 weeks prior to birth as they were sure little one would be imminent from Astrid’s behaviour. During the evening on Wednesday 14th October the Animal Care Team noticed Astrid’s behaviour change which indicated that she was in labour therefore staff came into the zoo at 9.00pm to monitor Astrid close by via the cameras so they were on hand if any problems arose.

Astrid’s birth progressed really well, and luckily there was no need for intervention by the Animal Care Team as the healthy calf was born at 9.45pm and keepers could identify the calf as male via the cameras. Within the hour of being born he managed to stand and Astrid offered him reassurance, it was not long after he was then suckling from mum. 

Despite Astrid being a first-time mum at 7yrs old, Astrid took the labour and birth in her stride. Since the birth, the bond between mother and calf is becoming stronger day by day and the young calf is already showing a mischievous character!

Astrid and her calf will stay inside, off-show, during these early days and the team will monitor their progress before gradually allowing him to explore further and eventually head outside with the chance to meet his new neighbours when he is big enough.

The Animal Care Team are waiting to name the calf until he is a little older and his personality grows but to help raise funds for Colchester Zoo’s Operating Fund there will be the opportunity for supporters to vote for their favourite name with the name which raises the most funds being chosen. We will be sure to keep you up to date with his progress over the coming weeks and advise when the vote is open.

Colchester Zoo has had great success as part of the breeding programme for White rhinos and this new arrival is the 6th calf to be born at the park. Previous youngsters have departed to join other zoos in the hope that they too become part of a successful breeding programme.

White rhinos are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, this is due to the poaching crisis and ivory trade, so this birth is brilliant news for the conservation of this magnificent species.

This rather large bundle of joy arrived 10 months after Astrid’s fellow White rhino Emily gave birth to young female rhino Lottie! Not only will Astrid’s new arrival be a play mate for young Lottie but he is also her half sibling, with their father being male White rhino, Otto!

Astrid’s pregnancy was confirmed in late 2019 via hormone analysis from faecal samples sent to a specialised lab with the youngster arriving after a 16-month gestation period. Although Astrid is a first-time mum she showed signs of her mothering nature with young calf Lottie before her calf was born so we’re sure she is going to be a fantastic mum.

Born in 2013, mum Astrid arrived at Colchester Zoo in July 2016 and shares her home with the rest of the rhino crash, Otto, Emily, Binta and Lottie as well as our other African species in our mixed paddock. Astrid can be spotted by a small nick in her left ear which she has had since she was young. 

This wonderful news has come at a very important time whilst Colchester Zoo has been negatively affected by the pandemic and recent loss of Lioness Malika. To have such lovely news gives a great boost of morale to the team and shows how important zoos are to the conservation of the animal kingdom. We need your help to continue this vital conservation work, you can help by visiting the zoo, becoming a Zoo Passholder or simply donating to the Colchester Zoo Emergency Operating Fund here.

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