ZooMiami makes history with world's first rare rhino born by artificial insemination

Zoo Miami celebrates second successful birth of rare rhino

ZooMiami is celebrating the birth of a new baby rhinoceros Wednesday in Miami-Dade County.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Zoo Miami is celebrating. Akuti was pregnant for about 15 months and on Tuesday the 7-year-old greater one-horned Indian rhinoceros gave birth to her first baby.

Ron Magill, Zoo Miami's wildlife expert, said it was the first successful birth of this species anywhere in recorded history to be the result of induced ovulation and artificial insemination. The rare species has been poached extensively for their horn. 

"The newborn is healthy and doing well but more detailed information will not become available until the veterinary team is able to do a neonatal exam," Magill said in a statement. "This will be performed when the staff feels that it can safely separate the infant from its very protective mother."

Her parents were both born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. 

Akuti, which means princess in Hindu, arrived at Zoo Miami in 2016, and the baby's father, 18-year-old Suru, arrived at Zoo Miami in 2003. After several attempts at natural breeding, a team from the South East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation stepped in to help. 

The team, which focuses on rare and endangered species, worked with Monica Stoops, a reproductive physiologist at the Cincinnati Zoo, for the artificially insemination Jan. 9, 2018. Akuti received regular ultrasound examinations and was under constant observation.

Magill said it is the zoo's second successful birth of "this very rare" species in the zoo's history. The staff remains vigilant since there could still be complications. 

"It is critical that the mother and newborn are able to establish a bond which can sometimes be a challenge for first time mothers," Magill said. 

Magill said that if everything goes well, it will probably be a few weeks until mom and baby are on public display. Magill expects experts worldwide to celebrate. 

"There are less than 3,000 Indian rhinos left in the wild occurring in small protected areas of Nepal, India, and Assam,"  Magill said. 

The baby rhinoceros won't stay small for long. Magill said they are the world’s fourth largest land mammal and sometimes can weight 6,000 pounds. 


About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.