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Category — Indian Rhino

Another First for CREW: Indian Rhino Posthumously Fathers a Calf

CREW has done it again! We are excited to announce the birth of a female Indian rhino calf produced by artificial insemination (AI) conducted by CREW Reproductive Physiologist, Dr. Monica Stoops, and born on June 5 at the Buffalo Zoo. From a historical standpoint, this is the first offspring for a male rhino who never contributed to the genetics of the Indian rhino population during his lifetime – a major victory for endangered species around the world and a lifetime of work in the making.

Rhino calf Monica

Rhino calf Monica

The father, “Jimmy,” died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004.  Over the course of those ten years, Jimmy’s sperm was stored at -320°F in CREW’s CryoBioBank™ in Cincinnati, before it was taken to Buffalo, thawed and used in the AI.

Jimmy the Indian Rhino

Jimmy the Indian Rhino

“We are excited to share the news of Tashi’s calf with the world as it demonstrates how collaboration and teamwork among the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) organizations are making fundamental contributions to rhino conservation,” said Dr. Monica Stoops. “It is deeply heartening to know that the Cincinnati Zoo’s beloved male Indian rhino, Jimmy, will live on through this calf and we are proud that CREW’s CryoBioBank™ continues to contribute to this endangered species’ survival.”

“Tashi,” the Buffalo Zoo’s 17-year-old female has previously conceived and successfully given birth through natural breeding in both 2004 and 2008.  Unfortunately, her mate passed away and the Buffalo Zoo’s new male Indian rhino has not yet reached sexual maturity. Because long intervals between pregnancies in female rhinos can result in long-term infertility, keepers at the Buffalo Zoo knew it was critical to get Tashi pregnant again and reached out to Dr. Stoops for her expertise.

In February of 2013, Dr. Stoops worked closely with Buffalo Zoo’s rhino keeper Joe Hauser and veterinarian Dr. Kurt Volle to perform a standing sedation AI procedure on Tashi. Scientifically speaking, by producing offspring from non or under-represented individuals, CREW is helping to ensure a genetically healthy captive population of Indian rhinos exists in the future.  This is a science that could be necessary for thousands of species across the globe as habitat loss, poaching, and population fragmentation (among other reasons) threaten many with extinction.

The Buffalo Zoo staff monitored Tashi’s pregnancy over the 15-16 month gestation period and at 3:30 p.m., on June 5, she gave birth to a healthy female calf, weighing 144 pounds.

Rhino calf Monica,  Lead  Rhino Keeper Joe Hauser, CREW Reproductive Physiologist Dr. Monica Stoops

Rhino calf Monica, Lead Rhino Keeper Joe Hauser, and CREW Reproductive Physiologist Dr. Monica Stoops with CryoBioBank

“Without Dr. Stoops’ dedication to the species, and to the development of AI science, there is no doubt this calf would not be here today,” said Hauser. “She has spent countless hours spear-heading research and technology for Indian rhino conservation and the Buffalo Zoo is excited to acknowledge that dedication and announce that the name of the calf is “Monica.”

Tashi’s calf demonstrates that AI science is a repeatable and valuable tool to help manage the captive Indian rhino population. With only 59 Indian rhinos in captivity in North America and approximately 2,500 remaining in the wild, being able to successfully introduce genetics that are non or under-represented in the population is critical to maintaining the genetic diversity necessary to keep a population healthy and self-sustaining.

“We are always thrilled to welcome a new baby to the Buffalo Zoo, but this birth is particularly exciting because the science involved is critical to saving endangered animals,” said Dr. Donna Fernandes, President of the Buffalo Zoo. “This type of professional collaboration among AZA Zoos is vital to the important work we do as conservation organizations and we are honored to play a critical role.”

July 3, 2014   No Comments

How Do You Differentiate Black, Indian and Sumatran Rhinos?

Guest blogger:  Crissi Lanier, Interpretive Media Intern

There are five species of rhinos in the world – Javan, Indian, Sumatran, Black & White. Three of these species, Indian, Black and Sumatran, reside here at the Cincinnati Zoo. Do you know how to identify them and where to find them? If not, read on and test your rhino knowledge on #WorldRhinoDay this Sunday, September 22.

Harapan at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Sumatran rhino Harapan at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Sumatran Rhino: Our sibling Sumatran rhinos, Harapan & Suci, have been in the news lately because they are the only two of their kind in North America and, as such, are key to the survival of this critically-endangered species.  They are in neighboring enclosures in Wildlife Canyon, where you can see them doing their favorite thing — getting muddy!

The Sumatran rhino’s most distinguishing feature is the reddish-brown hair that covers most of its body. It’s the smallest of all rhino species, standing about 4-feet high at the shoulder and weighs about 1,500–1,800 lbs. Like both African species, it has two horns.

To read more about the Sumatran Rhinos from past blogs click here.

Black rhino, Klyde.

Black rhino, Klyde.

Black Rhino: Our female black rhino, Seyia, is new to the Zoo and getting used to her surroundings in the Veldt.  She will make her public debut soon.  Her predecessor, Klyde, was transferred to the Sedgwick County Zoo for breeding a few months ago. Learn more about the crate training that made Klyde’s move smooth.

Although this rhino is referred to as black, its colors vary from brown to gray.  The black rhino is also referred to as the hook-lipped rhinoceros because of its prehensile upper lip.  It has two horns but can sometimes develop a third.

relaxing in water

Nikki in the water

Indian Rhino: We have two female Indian rhinos, Nikki and Manjula.  They are in separate enclosures in our Veldt, with Nikki often found lounging in her pool and Manjula making appearances when she feels like it!

The Indian rhino, also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and Indian one-horned rhinoceros, has only one horn!  Nikki’s is a bit worn down because she likes to rub it on trees and rocks. This heavily built species can weigh up to 8,000 lbs and has thick, silver-brown skin, and very little body hair. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps.

Manjula, our largest rhino.

Manjula, our largest rhino.


*Sumatran rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  They are native to Sumatra (Indonesia), Borneo and Malay Peninsula.

*Black rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN.  They are found in various parts of central and southern Africa.

*Indian rhinos are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  They are found in Nepal and India.

All of these rhinos need our help to survive for future generations.  You can  A.D.O.P.T. them to help aid in their daily care and enrichment, visit the Zoo on #WorldRhinoDay, talk to volunteers at the CREW stands about current research and more.

September 17, 2013   1 Comment

Meeting Baby Rhino Ethan

Alabama Bunker Standoff Rhino

Indian rhino calf Ethan

On June 22 2013, the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama announced the birth a special rhino baby that has very strong ties to Cincinnati.  Sixteen months earlier, we applied the artificial insemination (AI) technique pioneered at the Cincinnati Zoo to a 12 year old female Indian rhino  named ‘Jeta’ at the Montgomery Zoo.  While Jeta successfully conceived and gave birth through natural breeding in 2005 and 2007, AI was requested in 2011 due to behavioral incompatibility with her current mate, Himal.  The ability to integrate AI into the situation helped these rhinos, since risks of injuries due to aggressive interactions between the pair were avoided.  While female Indian rhinos at the Cincinnati Zoo have been conditioned for AI without the use of anesthetics, a new approach was needed in order to expand  this research to other zoos.  Although logistically difficult, the strategy worked because the Montgomery Zoo’s keeper and veterinary staff were committed to collecting samples and monitoring their rhino closely for signs of behavioral estrus.  After the third AI attempt on Jeta using sperm that had been stored in CREW’s CryoBioBank for eight years, the first Indian rhino AI pregnancy outside of Cincinnati was produced!

Jeta and Ethan

Jeta and Ethan

Jeta’s calf was given the name Ethan.  I visited Ethan and his mom this past weekend, when we filmed a live segment for the Today show.  I was joined by our Public Relations manager Tiffany Barnes who set up and organized the Today show filming in conjunction with the Montgomery Zoo.  The day we arrived, Ethan turned 2 weeks old and the Montgomery Zoo staff had just gotten the first weight on him.  Ethan weighed in at 181 lbs, confirming this little guy has not missed a single meal!

 Group Shot after Today Show filming- Doug Goode, Montgomery Zoo Director; Tiffany Barnes, Cincinnati Zoo PR Manager, Monica Stoops, CREW Scientist, Stacy Heinse, Montgomery Zoo Veterinary Technician and Marcia Woodard, Deputy Director Montgomery Zoo

Group Shot after Today Show filming- Doug Goode, Montgomery Zoo Director; Tiffany Barnes, Cincinnati Zoo PR Manager, Monica Stoops, CREW Scientist, Stacy Heinse, Montgomery Zoo Veterinary Technician and Marcia Woodard, Deputy Director Montgomery Zoo

While special circumstances may have surrounded Ethan’s birth, he is acting like any other rhino calf.  Mom Jeta is teaching him everything he needs to know about being and behaving like an Indian rhino- she is amazing!  She uses her nose and head to guide him where she wants him to be.  I love this picture taken of him during the Today show filming, here he is giving a look very typical of Indian rhinos, standing with his head held high and boldly looking on at what we were doing.

Ethan’s birth represents an important and new step in managing captive Indian rhinos.  By producing offspring from non- or under-represented individuals, CREW is helping to ensure a genetically healthy captive population of Indian rhinos exists in the future.  Most importantly, this calf signifies how collaboration among the zoo community can achieve great things for the animals in their care.  We anticipate future AI attempts will build upon this novel approach to help not only our zoo, but other zoos produce baby Indian rhinos.

June 27, 2013   2 Comments