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Nikki Gave Birth This Morning

Randy Pairan and rhino team caring for baby rhino.

Nikki gave birth early this morning to the world’s first live Indian rhino calf produced by artificial insemination (AI).  She delivered a male calf at 6:06 a.m. in her indoor stall. Currently, the calf is in critical condition with Zoo staff working diligently to feed and stabilize him. Meanwhile, Nikki is doing well and will remain indoors.

Nikki has been monitored 24 hours a day since the first of October. Nikki became increasingly restless throughout Monday evening into the night. Cincinnati Zoo Volunteer Observers called Zoo staff in early Tuesday morning. Nikki delivered her calf while volunteer and staff watched anxiously via a live video feed. As soon as the calf was born,  not moving or breathing,  Zoo staff immediately jumped into action to assist and resuscitate the calf.  The calf has been successfully breathing on its own since.

“The staff here at the Zoo is working tirelessly to do everything possible to support this calf,” said Dr. Monica Stoops, CREW Reproductive Physiologist and project leader at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. “We will continue to work to assist him during this critical period.”

Not only is this the world’s first successful live birth of an endangered Indian rhino conceived by artificial insemination (AI), but it is also the world’s first Indian rhino produced with frozen-thawed sperm.

October 27, 2010   9 Comments

Day 480 of Pregnancy for Nikki

Nikki - Indian Rhino

Today is day 480 of Nikki’s pregnancy. Indian rhinos are pregnant for 462 – 491 days, so she could deliver her calf any day. Many visitors ask the same questions when they’re watching Nikki, so here are the answers to your FAQs…

Q: Why doesn’t she have water in her pool?
A: The water temperature is too cool for Nikki and would be too cool for the baby. She still has access to plenty of drinking water.

Q: Does she give birth lying down?
A: She’ll probably be lying down for the final push but goes up and down during labor.

Q: How long does labor last?
A: About 3 hours.

Q: How much will the calf weigh?
A: 80 – 100 pounds

Q: How much does Nikki weigh?
A: 4,299 pounds!!

Q: When will the calf start to nurse?
A: About 30 minutes – 2 hours after birth

If you have any other questions, please post them.

October 19, 2010   26 Comments

Nikki Relaxin?

It was a beautiful Fall day in Cincinnati and Nikki was out walking around her exhibit and eating some of the fallen leaves.  Just like in pregnant humans, Nikki has been walking to help promote a fast and easier labor.  Her ability to exercise is more important than ever, now that it appears that she is feeling the effects of Relaxin hormone.  Relaxin is a hormone that Nikki (and other pregnant animals) produce prior to birth that helps “relax” the pelvis in preparation for the big event.  Each day, Nikki’s keepers and scientists observe how she looks and the effects of Relaxin have recently been noted.  In addition, the ZVO’s have recorded that Nikki is drinking more water, another effect of Relaxin.

A mother and baby watch Nikki. Soon Nikki will have her own bundle of joy!

Knowing that Nikki is getting closer to birth, it is more important than ever that she can continue to do some exercise outside.  When Nikki walks, her hips sway side to side and that helps position the calf correctly.  Because she is due to give birth any day, her keepers watch over her when she is on exhibit.  We Can’t Wait!

Head Keeper Randy Pairan keeps a close eye on Nikki while Zoo Visitors stop by to see her.

October 16, 2010   9 Comments